Two Down, Ten to Go

Before I reveal how well I did (or didn’t) do in keeping my New Year’s Resolutions in the month of February, I’d like to point out that February is a very short month. Consequently, a few of my goals weren’t realized until a couple of days into March. Nevertheless, I didn’t do too bad.

1. knit something from my handspun – Remember this gradient that I spun in January?

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Well, it became this.

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This shawl was a knit-on-the-fly kind of project, in which I didn’t really have a plan at the beginning. I did know that I wanted it to have a sort of “blossoming from the ground” kind of feel with the blue at the top being the flowers, the green being leaves, and the brown edging being roots. Accordingly, I agonized over every stitch pattern, count, and twist until it drove me crazy with the wondering if it was going to turn out okay in the end.

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The magic of blocking put all my fears to rest and I am extraordinarily pleased with the finished shawl. I am considering writing a pattern for it with a few tweaks to make it even better, but that takes a lot of time, so it might not happen (this year, anyway).

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Then I promptly gave it to my dearest friend for her birthday.

So, knit with my handspun? Check.

2. Knit a christmas gift or christmas decoration - This was the project that fell into March knitting time. To be fair, I had two of them done in February, but I have seven kids, so seven ornaments was, obviously, the goal.

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Elvish Mini Christmas Ornaments in all sorts of scraps

This photo is awful. Even now, they aren’t quite finished. I ordered little bells for them and will use the ends that you see for sewing them on.

So, knit something for Christmas? check.

3. Spin one braid (at least) I am halfway done spinning this -

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Mosaic Moon “Fallen” on Superwash Merino

See?

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I would have more spun, in fact I acquired several amazing braids that I cannot wait to get to, except that I had a mental hiccup. You see, I ordered my dream wheel – a Schacht Reeves!- and I want to spin on that! Alas, it isn’t coming until the first of April, so I have to content myself with my (still wonderful) old wheel.

So, spin at least one braid of fiber? check (halfway)

4. Keep my yarn/fiber purchases to the bare minimum (an unofficial stash down of sorts) Ahem. Ah. Hmmmm. Welllll. It’s like this….

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Actually I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say I had to expand my stash storage. I am now officially declaring a moratorium on stash growth. At least for March…

So, unofficial stash down? BIG FAT FAIL (oh! you have no idea)

5. Keep my WIPs to a maximum of four. Yes! I did it! And I love it. I am finding that in my growingly chaotic life, having fewer projects on the go is very comforting. That is not to say that I didn’t get hit with a case of startitis here and there.  Because I totally did. But I resisted. And I am happy.

So, focus on fewer projects at a time? check

Two months down, ten to go. And I’ll do better in March. It is longer, after-all.

One Down, Eleven To Go

I just read an interesting study about New Year’s resolutions. In 2007, the study tracked 3000 people through one year to see how they fared in keeping their New Year’s promises. The end of the year showed dismal results. Only %12 percent of the original 3000 people had accomplished their goals. SO, how are you doing with yours?

As for me, I am going strong here at the beginning of the second month. And this is what that looks like -

My knitting/spinning goals were set out as follows -

1. knit something from my handspun – I am working on this one. I spun up a lovely merino/yak blend for the Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL and that is still in progress. It’s not my fault it isn’t finished. I blame Ysolda.

IMGP1759_mediumSpunky Eclectic Club Fiber August 2013, 8 oz of two ply sport weight. Ravelry page here.

I would post progress pictures, except that it is a mystery knit and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. If you want to see it so far, here is my project page.

2. Knit a christmas gift or christmas decoration - The Blessing’s Christmas Stocking is finished, blocked, and packed away for next Christmas. The feeling of accomplishment that fills my chest at having a Christmas item finished before February even began is enormous!

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This is a mish-mash of patterns, mostly Kristen’s Creative Christmas Stocking, and is knit in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes  avocado, lullaby, cranberry, and semolina.

3. Spin one braid (at least) I spun 12 oz of fiber in January. I showed you the merino/yak above, but there was also this gorgeous Mixed Color BFL progression.

IMGP1873_mediumSpunky Eclectic Colorway for a Cause “It’s a Beautiful World”, approx 450 yards of fingering weight singles.
Ravelry page here.

This is already on the needles and half knit. I got a head start on February’s handspun knit.

4. Keep my yarn/fiber purchases to the bare minimum (an unofficial stash down of sorts) Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do so well at this one. Thank goodness I wasn’t more specific!

This month I added to the stash 24 oz of fiber, and only spun 12. I gave/traded away 4 oz. This puts me at +8 oz.
As for yarn? I added 10 skeins and only knit 4 and scraps. But I gave/traded away 5 skeins. So +1 for yarn.

5. Keep my WIPs to a maximum of four. (In my original post I said a minimum of four, but ya’ll knew what I meant, right?) This I accomplished with great difficulty. And, right now I have five, but just since yesterday. The Mystery KAL kind of doesn’t count, because once this week’s clue is finished, I can’t work on it until the next clue comes out, which makes it kinda like a finished object each time I finish a clue. Besides, last night I didn’t want to knit my lace Hitofude Cardigan, and the rows on the Allegro are getting snore-inducingly long, and I finished my clue on the MKAL Shawl, and the other knit is taking too much brains, and I just really wanted an instant gratification type project. So I cast on a dress for The Blessing with this lovely stuff.

IMGP1845_mediumMosaic Moon Targhee DK in Burlap and Burlap Semi Solid

I am half done. I will be knitting longies to go with it, too. Awesomely cute!

One month down, eleven to go. And doing just fine. 

I love the challenge of resolutions and the feeling of accomplishment that sticking to them brings!

(I am doing really well with my healthy changes resolutions, too, but that is kind of boring, so I won’t detail it. Suffice it to say, the longer I go without sugar and coffee, the less I want it, and the more active I am, the better I feel. These are lifestyle changes, not just for this year, so I will just carry on and continue to reap the benefits thereof.)

Christmas Consolation Socks

Everybody got a handknit in their stocking this Christmas.

The Bookworm got fingerless gloves (which she hasn’t taken off since Christmas morning)

IMGP1752and a lace shawl (oh, she has been asking for years for a lace shawl. I think she loved it). I finished it last summer and squirreled it away -

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The Boy got minions. Lots and lots of teeny, tiny minions -

IMGP1591The Princess got a hat and scarf. When I finished knitting these in November, I asked her to model them for me. She had no idea they were for her!

IMGP0962_medium2The Munchkin got hat and mittens to match her Strawberry Sweater -

IMGP1576_mediumFor The Fraggle, a hooded capelet. I love how she tucks her arms up into it. She is so cute!

IMGP1745 IMGP1747And for The Dancing Queen, socks. She had been asking me for handknit socks for years, but I always say no. Her feet grow far too fast! Oh, how sadly true that is, for when she tried to put them on Christmas morning, I realized they were too small.

IMGP1644She wanted them, bad, though. And she is such a gracious girl, I know she didn’t want me to feel bad, so she crammed her huge feet into them and thanked me heartliy. Later, I saw The Princess wearing them and I knew I had failed.

So, I took The Dancing Queen aside and I gave her a a few choices. I could fix those socks, I told her, to make them fit better. Or, if she wanted to pick out a different yarn, I could knit a whole new pair and she could give the small ones to her sister. She chose the latter. I gave her the run of the stash, any yarn she liked. She chose this Family Pendragon which has been in my stash for ages. I guess I was saving it for a really special project.

IMGP6820_medium2It fit the bill perfectly. And then I started knitting. I knit that first sock as fast as I could. Then I had her try it on, and wouldn’t you know it? Too small. Dang! When did this kid get so big? So I ripped back and started again. But by this time, I was burned out. Bleh. For a week I just played with my wheel instead, because I knew she was watching, so I couldn’t knit something else, but I DID NOT want to knit that! So I spun. See my merino/yak? oooh, purty!

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But it turns out that I am a good mom after all, and so I pushed through and finished the socks. The Christmas Consolation Socks. They turned out pretty darn good.

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Turkish Bed Socks in Family Pendragon 80/20 Fingering (discontinued), Ice Dragon 

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IMGP1737All’s well that ends well. And there might be enough left in that skein for a pair of socks for me! Woohoo!

But now I can’t wait to get back to that merino/yak. It is yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Healthy

While I am in the resolution mood, I am revamping my health.

Well, that is not quite accurate. I have been striving to make and serve healthy food in this house since I got pregnant the first time, fourteen years ago. There is nothing like motherhood to start one on a journey to the ideal diet. So we eat pretty good. However, I have my vices. Coffee, chocolate, late night snacking, and of course, my sweet tooth, all negate to some extent the kombucha, organic produce, grass fed beef, and other basic healthy foods that make up our diet. And the pregnancies necessitated some short cuts that we no longer need.

I know it sounds cliche at this time of year, but I really mean it. And just like I stick to my knitting resolutions every year, I can stick to these, too. Wanna hear it?

1. Coffee and tea are vehicles for sugar and cream. I don’t need them like I think that I do. Therefore, I will abstain from both coffee and tea. I will reward myself at the end of each week with one cup on Saturday morning. Exceptions – holidays and hostessing 

2. Chocolate is my downfall. I will not buy it. I will not stock it. If I am given some, I will appreciate it and savor it slowly. Exceptions – holidays

3. Snacking. I know for a fact that if I eliminate all eating after 7 pm I will loose weight. I am allowed one healthy snack in the afternoon to take the place of my usual afternoon coffee. This snack will be healthy – an apple or some celery in peanut butter, for example.

4. I will return our diet to more closely resemble the Nourishing Traditions model. More lacto-fermentation, more broths, more heathy fats. Less grains and processed/prepared foods. Only raw or cultured dairy products.

5. I will drink more water. I will drink when am snacky, drink when I want coffee, drink all day long.

6. I will be more active. Whether jumping on the trampoline with the kids, going for a walk to the store, or doing an aerobics video, I will get my body moving in some way each day.

7. I will try to eat seasonally, traditionally, and locally. (I just read Full Moon Feast and I am inspired)

8. I will keep a food journal so that I will be forced to be more honest with myself about what I put in my body and so that I can learn how food affects my health, my mood, and my life.

I post this here as a reminder to me. I may need to come back and read it again. And again.

This is my year to be healthy.

The Year of This and That

Every year I designate a theme of some sort. Just a little goal to spur my creativity on and keep my knitting or spinning fresh and new. I have been very satisfied with the results.

The Year of the Sweater (2010) yielded me a nice stack of handknit sweaters.

The Year of the Stash (2011) saved me tons of money, taught me to use some ingenuity when matching patterns to the yarn I had on hand, and still left me with a cabinet full of stash!

The Year of Spinning (2012) was when I added spinning to my fiber obsession, adding a new dimension to my passion for knitting.

Last year could be called The Year of Survival. While I didn’t make any declarations last New Years, I did get some fun things done.

I did some knitting -

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I did some spinning -

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And I did some knitting with my handspun -

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And that’s not even all of it! Pretty good for vomiting the first half of the year and nursing a baby the second, huh?

So, now it comes to 2014. What to do? I have a few ideas flitting around.

Knit only from my handspun for the year?

Only have one WIP at a time?

Set some kind of goal for each month. Say, every month I have to knit a sweater, a shawl, a pair of socks, or what have you?

Another stash down? Lord knows I need it!

A Christmas focused year?

Or maybe a mixture of the above.

Okay. I got it. Are you ready?

This year. Twenty-fourteen is The Year of This and That. And it goes a little something like this:

Each month I will -

1. knit something from my handspun

2. knit a christmas gift or christmas decoration (The Blessing still needs a stocking, I want to make each kid an ornament, and the nativity scene needs some sheep, for example)

3. spin one braid (at least)

4. keep my yarn/fiber purchases to the bare minimum (an unofficial stash down of sorts)

and 5. keep my WIPs to a minimum, say….. four. Yeah. Four is good.

That sounds do able but also challenging. And productive.

Ready. Set. Begin.

 

Happy New Year!

What’s that? I am six days late? My apologies to all of you who rang in the new year on time, but I am just getting around to it. We have been the reluctant hosts of a nasty little stomach bug since before Christmas and I am just too happy that we are all not barfing any more to care that Christmas and New Years were a total bust this year. At last, today, six days late, I start the new year. Today the kids begin their second term of school, I begin living up to various resolutions (both knitting and food related), and here on the blog, I recap the old and ring in the new. So….

Happy New Year! 

I’ve got to fess up and tell you that I have been a bit blue looking over the last year. Twenty-thirteen was a toughy. I spent the first six months of the year suffering through a pregnancy that I was still struggling to accept, a pregnancy which culminated in the birth of our blessing, and her subsequent diagnosis, hospital stay, and breastfeeding/weight gain issues. I was just starting to feel better and The Blessing was putting on weight and eating well when that Christmas sickness knocked us all down again. It was very discouraging.

These things were made harder to bear by the extremely tight finances. With very little money to play with on special occassions, our 15th Anniversary was a dud, my birthday was practically ignored, and our Christmas was meager. Then there was the time when my wallet was stolen, along with two weeks worth of grocery money in it. And the time my credit card was used at a hotel in Conneticut (hint: I live in California).

To top it all off, close friends suffered also this year, and I grieved sorely for broken marriages, lost babies, and empty wallets.

But it is as they say, that every cloud has a silver lining.

The pregnancy that I didn’t want and that I suffered greatly through, gave me the most amazing blessing that anyone could ask for. Her birth was exactly as I had wanted, her smile makes my heart ache with happiness, and her life is more precious than anything.

The hospital stay was probably the scariest thing that I have ever endured, but it was only a week long. The Blessing’s Down syndrome did not come with any life threatening conditions and did not require heart surgery, feeding tubes, or long term medical care. Though she was born with TMD (a form of leukemia), it was gone before she was discharged from the hospital. Our baby is now a healthy, happy six month old.

Down syndrome has not been the life changer that I thought it was going to be. So far, The Blessing has not been delayed at all, and she is very much a normal baby, with only her regular therapy sessions to remind us that she does, indeed, have an extra chromosome. Well, that and her eyes, her gorgeous, blue, almond-shaped eyes.

When my wallet was stolen and we had no idea how we were going to buy food for the next two weeks, I told the kids that this was our chance to see how God takes care of His children. We prayed and asked for Him to provide for us. And He did. People heard what had happened and started giving us money. A little here, a little there, and in less than a week we had more than we had lost!

On Christmas morning, after the stockings were opened and breakfast was eaten, we opened our front door to find that someone had piled up a Christmas miracle on our doorstep. Gifts of socks, shirts, and sweaters for everyone, a big box of food, and an envelope containing a Costco gift card and a typed note. I seriously cried as I watched the kids open these very unexpected gifts.

I realize now, looking back over 2013, that I can see it two different ways. I can see it with my blue lenses, my woe-is-me glasses, and cry over all the hardship that I endured. Oh, what a struggle it was to get through this past year! Oh, the things that I have had to endure! Oh, the trials that I have faced!

Or, I can instead put on my rose colored glasses, my life-is-good lenses, and see how it really was.

Even in my discontent, God provides.

Even in my weakness, He shows me his strength.

Even in my trials, He comforts me.

And, honestly, if that was the worst year of my life, then I have had it pretty easy. 

So here I am at the start of a fresh, new year. I have great hopes for this year. I’m going to be healthy and strong. I have creative goals and personal goals. I have ideas for homeschooling and memory making and training our kids up in the way that they should go. But I also have the memory of a very tough year to remind me that even when things don’t go the way that I hope they will, God is always in control and He has me in His very capable hands.

A Thank You Note to Our Mystery “Santa”

You left gifts on our doorstep,

And filled our pantry with good things to eat,

You put grocery money in my wallet,

And socks on the kids feet,

Thank you

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I don’t know who it was that did it,

And I can’t hug you tight,

You chose to remain a secret,

Playing Santa on Christmas Eve night

Thank you

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We were so surprised to find it all,

Piled up outside our door,

I stood with tears filling my eyes,

My kids opened gifts on the floor,

Thank you

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The clothes all fit perfectly,

The food is exactly what I’d get,

You made our Christmas magical,

One that we will never forget,

Thank you

Someday, I Will Have Knit a Stocking For Everyone

The Fraggle has a handknit Christmas stocking in time for Christmas! (Whew!)

IMGP1566A mishmash of patterns, specially designed to match the other seven that I have already made in years past, knit in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Avocado, Rouge, and Aurora Heather.

IMGP1564Now I only have one to go.

If only I could stop having babies long enough to get caught up on the Christmas stockings!

 

 

Instant Facial Hair Makes a Great Christmas Present

For my brother and sister in law’s annual white elephant christmas party, I made a beard.

My grandma was the first to open it. I cannot tell you how dissappointed I am that the picture did not turn out. My grandma. With a thick brown beard. Hilarious.

This beard was then passed around a bit before it landed on my sister’s boyfriend’s face. Hilarious.

Best. Gift idea. Ever.

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Beard in Malabrigo Chunky Merino  Marron Oscuro

image_medium2 Ravelry project page hereIMGP1402_mediumYou’re welcome.

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