The Bees need our help!!

I’m devoting my post today to the wonderful and talented Samantha Troia. Sam and her family are the geniuses behind Bumblebee Acres Farm – indie dyers and caretakers of a lovely flock. I’m a huge fan of their work, which is why I’m sharing this with all of you.

Help Sam

Hello All My Fiber Friends!

This is Sam Bee here, writing to you to ask you all for your help this Holiday Season.

As you may know, being self employed comes with many struggles. This year we have worked harder than ever, and as a result we have brought more joy to all of you, and many others, through yarn and fiber. We are grateful and blessed for the opportunity. From the bottom of our hearts, thank your for all of your love and support this year.

It is in the spirit of love that I write this email to you, asking you for just a little more help during the season of giving…

Some of you may know that I am a Type 1, or Insulin Dependant, Diabetic. Your can read some of my story here. I have struggled for nearly 15 years with the constant ups, downs, and side effects of diabetes. Finally, the medical community has released a medical advancement that will allow me to sleep through the night without fear of not ever waking up again, help regulate me to the point where I no longer worry that each high glucose reading brings me closer to losing my eyesight, limbs, or other organs.

The problem is that my insurance does not cover the cost of this new Insulin Pump and Continuos Glucose Monitoring System that will change my life, so I am asking all of you for just a little help. Purchasing my “Joyful & Cozy” Patterns  costs you only $5. I know this is a good handful of money, but it will give me a night of sleep, a target blood sugar reading, or even another day designing patterns or simply being alive. If you could part with $3, $10, or even more… you can donate here .

Thank you for your time, your support, and your continual love. I would not ask this of you if I did not truly, desperately need it.

All the love always,

~SamBee

Please help if you can…

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.

Wow – that went fast!

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Seems like just a couple of months ago I jotted down some thoughts, now I look and BAM! It’s been months! No excuses really, except life. It was a full summer, then I moved and now I’ve finally set up my Mac – lots going on.

And I have no real thoughts or wisdom right now either. Except that its cold. Like really cold. Like COLD! And I think the tires on my car are flat because I don’t drive it more than once a week or so. And Moon keeps jumping up on my desk – he wants something, I just can’t figure out what it is.

And I’m going to be a great-aunt! Nick and Liz are having a baby boy.

And I have a LOT of yarn! 10 IKEA bins full plus 5 sweater bags… I so gotta stop buying yarn and start knitting it, ya think? I didn’t realize how much I had until I moved and put my yarn storage in the living room – wow. I thought time went fast – so does stash building! That feeds into my resolution – no more yarn until at least 3 of those 5 sweaters is done and I knock down at least 3 bins. Its going to be a challenge, yes – but I’m up for it. No more buying patterns either. I keep looking for ‘that perfect pattern’ for me, but how will I know one if I’ve only knit one sweater? I need to make a few more, so I know what looks good on me and how to alter a pattern to fit better. I joined a KAL on Ravelry – a sweater in the month of January – that should help. Plus its being run by the designer – I’ll be able to ask questions right away and get answers – that’s kind of exciting.

And I need to shut the computer down and have dinner… toodles!

Catching up

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My brother holding his baby sister

Gosh it’s been so long since I’ve written anything. I feel like a slug.

I finished that pretty sweater for Becky and guess what? IT WAS TOO BIG!!! She lost weight in between start and finish and now it just hangs on her. So, we make another :). This time I let her pick the yarn and, boring girl, don’t she just pick navy blue! The Camp Hoodie I made for her was navy blue. She used to work at QuadGraphics and wore navy blue every… single… day! Nope – that’s what she wanted, so that’s what Auntie’s making. One thing you definitely gotta say for the girl, she appreciates everything.

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I also made a couple of scarves in there…

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And a beaded shawl for myself….

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(my coordinator says that photo makes me look like a Jawa…)

So, I’ve kept busy, I haven’t just been slogging it the last few months, but lately it’s been a burden to do anything. I can’t seem to function or concentrate on anything but knitting. It seems to be the only thing holding me together. You see, that boy at the top of the page is my big (biggest) brother, Terry. He died in October, 2 weeks after his 66th birthday and 4 days after my 58th. I can’t exactly say that we were close. He lived in Seattle and I didn’t get to see him often. Email, the odd phone call now and then. But not like living in town with him.

But, you see, he was still my brother. We did all those crazy, stupid things that kids do together like go sledding down the suicide hill behind Nathan Hale. And go trick or treat at night – by ourselves (we grew up in a more innocent age). Or slogging through the wilds of Root River parkway, the boys shooting at each other with their six-shooters (cap guns) and me riding on the back of our faithful dog Amber. My brothers were my heroes – still are – there was never a doubt in my mind that nothing could happen to me when my brothers were around. When he went away to college, even though it was Marquette and only downtown, he moved out and that’s when we began growing apart. I was only 9 or 10 when he moved out – he was 8 years older and started college early. We just didn’t have a lot to say to each other until we were adults. He was busy being married, a father and a navy man sailing all over the world. I was busy with puberty, acne and trying to survive Lane Junior High School.

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Plus it’s that feeling – you who are a little older will understand. All my parent’s generation are gone. Even some of my cousins. My brother Greg and I are now the seniors in our family and it’s… weird. We have 2 cousins from Terry’s cohort left, Carol Jean and Charlene – I don’t know about any of the others. But then they get into Greg’s cohort, then mine (which is the smallest). I used to have 17 cousins. I now have somewhere around 10.

So all that combined to drop this pall of inactivity over me. I’m over the crying – well, mostly. Sometimes, like now, talking about him and the old times and looking at the photos, I still mist up.

He was a ham radio operator and member of the Pacific Northwest SARS team. He was an Author whose book is still available on Amazon.com. He was a computer scientist who programmed call centers for huge European banks. He was a nuclear physicist and astrophysicist. He was a loving, gentle husband and father whose own son was taken much too soon (TJ died in 2001). He was a genius, a perfect combination of Sheldon and Leonard from the Big Bang Theory – a nerd and a hacker (before hacker became a bad word) but, unlike both of them he had a wicked sense of humor. He was so much to so many people.

Most of all he was my brother.

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Frogging, root beer and the mysteries of bluetooth…

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See that sweet little ball of yarn there? Yup – that one, sitting on top of my old afghan – the bright yellow one? Folks, that used to be a sock. More specifically a pom pom ped. That didn’t work. and that, my friends was why it got frogged. It was done, all toe decreased and Kitchenered and everything – and I ripped it all out. Because that’s what you do when your knitting just isn’t right.

What was so wrong with it you may ask that I completely tore down a completed sock? Well as I worked on sock #2 it became evident that I had completely miscounted the heel flap -having a stitch counter helped me realize that. And I had also somehow done my toe decreases unevenly. And my Kitchener stitch was horrendous.

So that was one day this week. Then came yesterday.

I love root beer. A&W Diet root beer – my fave. Until half the bottle winds up in my knitting bag… on my work in progress… for class tomorrow… with my homework not yet done… I love Napoleon, my little black cat. He’s one of the sweetest little kitties. But he’s the clumsiest cats I’ve ever known. Fuz could walk across the coffee table and not touch a single thing. Napoleon on the other had could knock over a glass if it were the only thing on the table – or a root beer bottle. So good luck getting my homework done.

And thanks to the Apple community forums I now have a keyboard again to type this on my iPad. For the last week I not been able to pair the keyboard with my iPad. The SAME keyboard that I have written every post with since I began this blog. After scouring the site for days (and a trip to the Apple store this evening and getting soaking wet – don’t ask) I finally found my answer. I was reading about this guy who was having the same problem and he found that his keyboard was paired with his iMac and he didn’t ‘forget’ the device when he started using a different keyboard. Well, my iMac has been off all week, and the guy at the store had no problems pairing it when I remembered that I had paired this keyboard with my Apple TV (yes – I am a gadget junkie). Once I ‘forgot’ the device on my ATV PRESTO! I am back to writing this rambling blog.

And just for listening to that whole ramble I’m going to reward you with another photo of my little Poli. Say Hi, Poli….

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Dang – I lost it!

Have you ever made something then promptly lost it? Has it ever just twisted your nose? Well that’s how I feel. Mainly because this time I was a good girl. I did the proper steps, in the proper order and dang if it isn’t gone.

My gauge swatch.

I lost it.

I made a nice sized gauge swatch in 3×3 ribbing, which is what the majority of this new top I’m making is knit in. Nice size, about 6″x6″ unblocked. Then, following my instructor’s advice I put it in the wash with the other stuff I would normally wash at that cycle and temp. When I put the stuff into the dryer I completely forgot about it until I was back at work (I work from home, so I try to do laundry on lunch and breaks – it’s usually a nice walk down to the laundry room and back). I figured that, if it came out really bad I could make another. But when I took my clothes out of the dryer it wasn’t there. I folded my t-shirts, but it wasn’t clinging to one of them. I folded my towels, unmentionables, camis – nanda – it wasn’t even hanging onto my microfiber dish cloths – and those suckers stick to EVERYTHING. I was so bothered I walked back down to the laundry room to see if I dropped it but didn’t notice and a big NOPE on that one.

Oh I know I can make another. It’s just the principle of it. It’s like the poor single sock – used to being a couple and now on its own and lonely. Dryers shouldn’t eat clothes.

Or swatches!

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