Okay – no excuses….

I’m just going to share all the stuff that’s happened since my last post in bits and pieces. There’s really no other way to do it 😛

Let’s just start with the first thing that consumed the entire spring for me: SEATTLE! Gosh but I love it there – enough to put up with the rain and move. But I know it would not be either practical or affordable. I’ve been talking to Becky about it for a while now, because I think she’d be a natural in either Portland or Seattle. Lots of activity, the freshest seafood EVER and lots of places to hike and run. For me – lots of yarn shops, natch! So we decided to plan a trip out there together. She’d drive out from Missoula and I flew in from MKE. Since this was a long flight (nearly 5 hours) and I could afford it I decided to go First Class. Big difference! Holy schmoley! They still serve a meal, on plates with cloth napkins and free drinks. I haven’t been treated like that since the old days, when flying was special and you actually got dressed up (like Sunday best dressed up) to do it. Of course, there really wasn’t a ‘First Class’ section back then – not for a few years anyway. You always got a meal and you always got at least 1 drink. 


That was taken out the window…

It was an awesome week! Sushi on a conveyer belt, pizza that was way too spicy, shellfish that you beat into submission with a mallet, more sushi and even a trip to Red Robin (another company that I did not know had it’s origins there).

 All that fantastic food! 
Yeah, we did the touristy stuff – top of the Space Needle, Dale Chihuly Glass Museum and Garden, Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island (there was an actual purpose for that…), Pike Place Market..

Plus, Becky got to do a run and visit Runner’s World and REI. I got to about 6 yarn shops and we went to Mt. Rainier National Park. And the ferry ride to the Island took me here: 

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

Really cool Island burger joint

Now the trip to Mt. Rainier was great! You can see that mountain from most of Seattle – it’s just there, y’know? You’ll be driving on the freeway and round a bend and WHAM – there he is! And he was visible most of the time, rather than wreathed in clouds, so we decided to go out. Of course is was foggy when we started. We were driving along and you couldn’t see much further than 50 feet from the car in any direction. Becky was ready to turn back, but I kind of said ‘hang on – let’s see if it clears’ (because the same thing happened the day we went to Glacier). Sure enough, about half-way up to the visitor center the skies went bright blue and the views were spectacular. Now, this trip was the end of May/begninning of June and there was still a 12 ft snowpack on the slope next to the visitor center. Now I understand those old photos of Sun Valley and people skiing in shorts! 

 
That was fun and beautiful!

View from the top of the Space Needle

Houseboats on Lake Washington

Dick’s ‘Life Changing’ burgers

Biscuit Bitch – it’s a thing

View from the ferry

YARN!

MORE YARN!

The Fremont Troll

Beer – it matters


I only wish I had been feeling better – we could have done so much more! But I was suffering from (I later found out) severe bronchitis – nearly hacked up a lung! 

But, even with that – gosh it was fun!

spitballin…

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I like having choices, but sometimes they don’t come out quite how you expect them to…

Like these yarns. I got a request from Becky for more socks, but she was very specific – had to be the same pattern as the first ones I made (VBM Clue Socks), in the same yarn (tosh sock – she has good taste) and in a cream color (she specified filtered light – cream with a dark fleck). I initially offered her a choice of the three skeins above – the only ones I currently have in my stash that have any sort of cream in them and none of them are tosh sock. The only tosh fingering I have right now is green – like her first pair. I especially like the one on the left – Zombie BBQ… LOL! But no, not quite enough cream in them. So I get to go to the yarn shop – big hardship, I know 😀

I’m actually so very pleased that someone out there likes my knits enough to actually ask for some! I mean, I’m never sure if, when I knit a gift it’s something that the person actually likes and will use. The only other request I have on my table right now is a pair of mittens for my sister-in-law. But I need to get to the shop and get some batt for the thrums. I made her a pair of nice thrummed mittens which she loved, but she lost them. No problem making another pair, I just don’t get to the shop that carries the batt that often.

So that’s 2 yarn shops to go to Saturday! Choices… it’s all about the choices!

 

Changing your mind… and then changing it again.

Some of you might know that I volunteered to do another test knit sweater. Yeah – I know! I just finished The Reach – and the designer was so pleased she featured my photo on her pattern page! (YAY). I actually love that one so much I just swatched for another one…

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But – yeah – another test. This one with a tight deadline, too. Sometimes I think that this is the only way I make sweaters. The current one is my fourth and my first for Tanis Lavallee – whose designs I’ve liked for quite some time now. In general I like designers who care enough to include LOTS of sizes in their patterns – especially plus sizes. Tanis’ patterns usually go from kids sizes all the way up to me – 3x. (I used to be a 4x, but I think the recent weight loss has shrunken me just a tad)

I like the pattern – challenging to begin – definitely a different construction technique than I’m used to, even for a top-down. I’ve never done a top-down cap sleeve before – only raglans. Then, once you’re over the hump and have separated the sleeves and joined the fronts and back it’s acres and acres of garter stitch. Nice and squishy, this one is!

But, I was not especially happy with my yarn choice. Its always a challenge knitting in my size because I need so much yardage. I know… I know – I’ve bemoaned this state before. 2200 yards of worsted weight yarn… <sigh> easily $250 for Tanis’ yarns. So, to the clearance rack I go and find what I think is a really nice silvery-gray Rowan Hemp Tweed. Good yardage, reasonable price – less than half what it would have cost for designer yarn. But, as I now work with it I keep finding loads of… mmmmm… vegetal matter. Strands of stalks and bits of stuff twisted into the yarn, so that every few stitches I’m pulling crap out. I’ve not gotten through a row yet without this stuff. It’s too bad, too because, without all of that the yarn is nice and soft.

I was just about to pick up for the sleeve caps when I changed my mind and decided to turn back. Frog and look for different yarn. This yarn was hard on my hands… It had all this stuff in it… I had even had a sweater quantity of another yarn of the same weight that should work… I didn’t mind that the Rowan was a bit rustic looking. I like that. Not slubbed or narrow-thick – not that way, but without the polished smoothness that most commercial yarns have. Go to any store and pick up a skein of Caron, or any LYS and pet a skein of madelinetosh, then this Rowan and you’d see what I mean. But… the junk!

So I slept on it. It was late – well early would be a better word – it was about 2am and I was too tired to make a decision.

Next day I picked it up again and tried a few more rows, tracking my increases, checking my tension – all that – and before I knew it I was done with the sleeve cap! Whaaaaaat? How the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did that happen? I sat down to do a few rows and the project changed my mind for me. So, now it’s really too late to go back (for me it is – unless the problem is severe or I really (like REALLY) don’t like it I don’t frog). And, once I joined the body pieces it began to fly.

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10 inches of squishy garter and the ribbed border… After that it’s just sleeves, collar and blocking. Falling off a log….

I’m so glad I’m so good at changing my mind….

It’s been an interesting day

So there was this:

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I know – it ain’t a lot under – but it’s under and that’s the point.

Five years ago I quit smoking. I started smoking when I was… oh around 10. Yes, that’s right – 10. My dad worked at a tobacco distributor and it was all around us. Back in the day cigarettes were 23 cents a pack. But the machines would only take quarters. So it was kind of a family side business to put the two cents under the cellophane using a special machine (in those days I actually had two cents worth and never offered change). There were automatic ones that worked on a trigger that I was not allowed to use and smaller hand-driven ones that I was. You’d slip the machine’s blade under the cello, shoot the lever and two pennies would be slid under the wrap. Then you’d place a small piece of tape over the slit and go on. It was my first experience with assembly line process – and we made a family affair out of it. The boys would bring the boxes down to the basement, I’d open cartons and fill the machines with pennys, put the tape over the slits, Mom would operate the machines and Dad would run inventory.

Both my parents smoked, so I started by snitching cigarettes from them. In those days the store owners didn’t ask for ID. All you had to tell them was that you mom or dad sent you over to buy them a pack and that would be it. They were so easy to get that I started buying my own when I was about 12.

For some reason, after nearly 50 years I just decided one day to quit. My cat was wheezing. My niece remarked one time that her of smelled of smoke after I’d been sitting for him. I was wheezing… It was time.

So I just…. stopped. I finished my last pack and threw it away and that was it.

And I went a little nuts.

I couldn’t figure out what to do. I had a comforting routine. Cigarette in the morning with my coffee. Refill coffee at break time, light one up. One after lunch and with afternoon coffee. One after dinner, then again before bed. And, if I was wakeful a smoke would calm me and I could sleep.

Now all of that was gone. What to do???

Well, you turn to an even older and dearer friend – food. When I lived in Upstate NY I’d lost nearly 90 pounds and was weighing in at around 260. When I quit smoking I went back up to about 330.

So, to curb the eating I started knitting – I guess I’m an obsessive personality… But I couldn’t shift the weight. I dithered around with my diet – going to fast food drive-throughs and ordering pizza or Golden Chicken. And I fell on the ice – twice. For five years I’ve putzed and puttered, knowing what I should be doing… but not doing it. I was justifying the bad eating with ‘oh, it was a really bad day…’ or ‘I didn’t have breakfast, so I can have this…’ What a crock of BS, if I do say so myself!

Then, just like smoking it became time. Time to stop jerking around. Time to start testing my blood glucose levels again. Time to make a Dr. appt and have my A1C and all my levels checked. Time to do a 30-Day Challenge with someone who not only makes it fun but is a great example of turning your life on it’s head. Someone who inspires me every day. Time to dig myself out of the hole.

Time to live again.

 

Baby its cold outside… but I’ve got knits!

Not even as cold as some places around the country – and we aren’t having the snow, but with the wind chill still below zero!

The problem this poses for me is that I need to take ‘glamour’ shots of my new sweater for the designer and its way too cold to pose outside. And I don’t have a nice indoor spot – unless I go to a public place like a library or something. If I still worked in an office I’d go there, but I don’t really know any place I’d like to go to this time of year. The sweater is really nice (quickly becoming my favorite) and deserves a nice setting. Plus the designer asked for ‘professional’ photos…

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And not only do I like to keep warm, I like for others to stay warm also. That’s why I no longer own this little hat:

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My stylist, Patrick mentioned last time I was in that his head was cold. So he was gifted a hat… 🙂 Not like I don’t have enough yarn to make another (and one is already on the needles!)

But I don’t give them all away. This pair of gloves (my first attempt at gloves) are all mine! The gray is a special yarn that’s spun with silver – so you can operate a touch-screen with them on. I’ve tried with the fingers that I have complete and it does work!

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And finally a scarf that I’m making. I had this lovely yarn, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I’m not a fan of singles – they just seem really delicate to me – I’m a twist sort of girl. But I so fell in love with the colors that I had to have it. So, it’s going to be a scarf. It’ll keep me (or Becky) warm without getting a lot of torque.

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The colors look almost metallic…

But today its all about snuggling with the kitty. We slept in this morning because he was feeling especially cuddly and just borrowed in, paws wrapped around me. I just couldn’t get up…

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Sometimes the important things are not the biggest….

 

 

The bright promise of new yarn

See those three pretties? Those, my friends are NEW YARN!

New yarn is like a new day – full of promise and excitement. Will it be soft on my hands as I knit? Will it work up into a lovely new garment? Will it be full of drama (not the good kind) as I wind it or tame as a goldfish (no – kittens and lambs are NOT tame, sorry)?

These are already destined for a project – a Drachenfels Shawl. It came as a kit from Craftsy. Ordered because Becky wants one and I thought I should test the pattern before I ‘go live’ with it for someone else.

Do I NEED a new project? Um… that would be a no. I have 8 projects currently on needles, four in hibernation and a further 44 in my Ravelry queue. So, no – I don’t need another project.

But… NEW YARN!

I’m home for the holidays… but nobody else is

Its been a very bizarre holiday season for me. and it’s getting stranger by the day.

In November for Thanksgiving I went to Missoula, MT to visit Becky. We had a grand time, even though the elevation and dryness challenged my asthma in ways I didn’t know were possible. That and the fact that the lives on the THIRD FLOOR… 🙂 But it was all good and, in the end I truly hated to leave her.

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This is us at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. I’m a Park fan and I visit them whenever time and travel allow.

But, imagine my disappointment when, on a Face Time call with the family in Wisconsin I found that they were having their Christmas present opening on Thanksgiving Day. I have to say I was mighty bummed. I understand the reasons they decoded to do it, but I wish they would have told me. I could have sent my presents for the boys along with my brother and sister-in-law and I could have watched them open them over the phone. Not ideal, but that’s what you do when relatives are at long distance. You don’t just have the event and not tell them so that, when you see them opening their presents from Grandma and Grandpa you aren’t totally blind-sided.

Granted – I’m Great Auntie and, if I’m there or not the boys won’t remember, it’s just the consideration that I miss. It felt like slap in the face.

Okay – I said it and it’s off my chest…

But now Christmas Day is going to be weird, like I said. For some reason my brother decided he needed to go to Montana to spend the holiday with Becky. It’s her first Christmas out there and all. I get it. And that’s why they had the gift opening on Thanksgiving.

So that means that there’s no Christmas holiday this year. Oh, my sister-in-law is going up to see Nick and his family. She’s staying the whole four-day weekend, in fact. But she’d move in with them if given the chance. Honestly, I think she’d sleep in the basement if it meant she could see her grandsons every day. It’s like nobody else exists. And I secretly think that’s the reason my brother went to spend the holiday in Montana.

So, no dinner – I even offered to buy pizza but, no. No gift opening (I don’t buy them stuff – I give them money because, with two growing kids and a limited budget there are always things you need). No watching stupid holiday movies or TV Christmas specials. It’s just going to be Nick and I going to see the new Star Wars movie while Grandma plays with the boys.

Hence the gray toned photo. I don’t like this holiday season at the best of times, but at least I used to feel like I was part of something.

Not any more…

 

Crafting Small

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I finally have a little time for reflection after the craziness of my move and the push to get a working office and kitchen. Time to go through the rest of my boxes at leisure and sort, weed, organize and store a bit more thoughtfully. One thing that’s occurred to me was about my craft stash. Not yarn – that’s a completely different animal… But the other stuff.

Besides being a knittist and yarnie I also sew, bead, weave, paint and digitally scrapbook – and those are just the main ones! I also dabble in the occasional paper craft. All these activities has its own STUFF.

Sewing: sewing machine, serger, buttons, measuring implements, thread, needles (hand and machine), machine attachments, fabric, binding tapes, scissors…

Beading: beads (lots and LOTS of beads), beading wire, beading thread, tools (lots of different tools and all unique to beading), findings (if you’re making jewelry), bead looms

Painting: paints (yeah – lots of ’em), canvases, brushes, easel, paint knives, prep chemicals (don ‘t know what else to call them, gesso and that stuff)

Paper Crafting: I got rid of most of this (gave to my sister who does scrapbooks and cards) but I still have a few stamps and stamp pads, some paper

Digital Scrapbooking: scanner for the mountain of photos I have that are NOT digital, and said photos awaiting scanning.

So its time to pare down. Get rid. Donate.

I realized that I have 12 boxes of crafting stuff – not including yarn. That’s excessive – and compulsive. I like tools. I like gadgets. But nobody needs as much as I have.

I’m guilty of taking on STUFF from other people – like after my sister-in-law’s mother passed I somehow came into possession of a lot of her fabric, laces, buttons and basically stuff that nobody knew what to do with. This stuff needs to leave my place because I will never use it.

I’m guilty of buying a new thing when I couldn’t find the original thing (totally due to poor organization). Or buying a new thing because the old thing was somehow lacking – it was bent (although still usable), it was stained (yeah, like that’s going to affect how a tape measure measures), it’s paint had worn off (although the etched surface markings were still visible)… you get the idea.

Well, now I have a very different space. It’s large, yes, but I don’t want to have it swimming in stuff I don’t need/will not use. I want to be able to find what I want quickly – without having to dig through a lot of bins and deep storage pieces (like Yule/holiday decoration deep).

I have a large work table under which will nicely fit 3 IKEA carts. These will contain the sum total of my craft supplies (maybe 2 after I weed it down) with the exception of fabric, which will still need a bin. The aim is to tame!

From this:

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some of my craft stash

To something more akin to this (this is still a WIP, but it really is much better than it was. I also had a lot of duplicate spices!):

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spice and tool organization for a kitchen with wonky cabinets and drawers

Time to catch up again…

Wow – it seems I can’t get up to date and stay there! It’s been furious these past few months with lots of knitting and activity, and very little time spent just reflecting and writing. Because that’s what this is for me – it’s my time for reflection.

So, on to the updates!

Alexander

My new Grand Nephew

This adorable little guy is my new grand (great?) nephew, Alexander William. Born on March 24th at around 9pm. His poor mommy had a tough time and he had to finally be taken by C Section, but everyone is doing just great now. He was just a couple days after what would have been Mom’s 97th birthday. She would have gone nuts over him! As it is his Gramma Cheryl is the conductor on the baby crush train.

There was a lot of this:

two color ribbing brioche

Learning new techniques – on the left is 2 color corrugated ribbing and on the left is brioche stitch. They are both for fun KAL’s (knit along) on Ravelry. Those can be really fun groups with a lot of people working the same pattern so there’s lots of support and encouragement.

By far my favorite group is Friends of Knitting Sarah. The absolute best, most supportive group of knitters short of my local yarn shop. They are funny, give great advice and share their experiments and success with gusto.

Undulation scarf

A tiny bit of designing. This is a scarf that I call Undulations. I had the pretty yarn and saw the pattern as I was flipping through a stitch dictionary. I figured out the repeats, cast on some stitches and whipped a little scarf to wear with my blue suit.

And of course socks…

becky socks

and socks…

dragonfly socks

and socks…

tracey socks

and still more socks!

VBM socks

And now I’m moving – yet again!! As my friend Ken says – fun times! So I may not have a chance to catch up again until next month – after the move has been accomplished. But I hope you enjoy the photos and – if you can think good thoughts for me as I pack up again.

Sometimes I think I should just put my furniture on wheels…..

Ode to an FO

Watermelon Sock

I like finishing things – I really do. Like that adorable little thing in the photo there. Its a sock. Just a little shorty sock – ribbed cuff, afterthought heel (more on that later), top-down stockinette – nothing fancy. But, ya know what? It gave me great pleasure to finish that sock. Not because I was bored with it or that I had fallen out of love with the yarn – ohhh no. But because I like to finish things.

I’m the opposite of the people who start a thing then move on to the next before the first is quite done. The ‘oh I brought it this far’ syndrome that leaves a project not quite ready for prime time. I work with someone like that. This individual keeps saying ‘give me more projects’ and ‘how are they ever going to trust me if you don’t let me work on things’. So I let them work on something – I outline the parameters of the project then let go. When I get it back its alllllmost done – but the reports are not final or approved. And there is no process flowchart. The files are not named in any logical or repeatable manner. All of the program design is haphazard. In short – left for me to finish and present to the client.

Now, I realize that I’m the supervisor. Its my job to make sure that what goes out is correct to both internal and external clients. But, when I assign a project to someone who’s been crabbing for months about getting the client to trust them, to be able to work on projects for them only to have it not completed I get a little testy. Which is probably why I’m blowing off steam here in my blog rather than talking about knitting.

But why can’t there be an intersection between work and knitting? A knitting pattern flows from one step to the next, in a logical, defined manner to its conclusion. Sure, you can knit the pieces out of order – so what if I want to knit both sleeves of my sweater on one huge circular needle? Nobody cares. It’s pretty much the same for process. Once the process is defined, tested and installed you can run the steps out of order (well, some of them) if you so desire. There’s more than one way to reach a correct outcome. But the process, like a knitting pattern, needs to be written and tested first. All the way – start to finish – taking into account things like repeatability, end user experience (or lack thereof) and desired result with Quality Controls. Don’t sell me a poorly written knitting pattern and DO NOT give me a half-assed attempt at a client project.