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 -

IMGP9245_medium2IMGP9661_medium2 IMGP1385_medium2 IMGP0893_medium IMGP1591_medium IMGP9198_medium IMGP9096_medium

I did some spinning -

IMGP1534_medium IMGP9211_medium IMGP8704_medium2

And I did some knitting with my handspun -

IMGP0962_medium2 IMGP0677_medium2 IMGP8836_medium2 IMGP8785_medium2 IMGP9332_medium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMGP1686

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

IMGP1685

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

IMGP1689

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.

IMGP1429_medium

Beard in Malabrigo Chunky Merino  Marron Oscuro

image_medium2 Ravelry project page hereIMGP1402_mediumYou’re welcome.

IMGP1490

Dale & Dolly – Deck the Halls

Dale and Dolly trim the tree

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my thirteen year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Nativity

I absolutely adore the nativity set that we use (Evi Nativity Set found here). I have been collecting it piece by piece over the last couple of years and still don’t have all of it. What I do have, though, gets lots of love. And I enjoy finding it in the interesting arrangements that the kids are known to leave it in. Like this one that I entitled “Joseph, Mary, and Angel are all really into Jesus!”

IMGP1324All kidding aside, I think that this set is awesome because it is a toy that can be played with and loved

IMGP1350

yet still looks gorgeous on the coffee table.

IMGP1351

I need to knit some better sheep, though. 

 

Trimming the Tree

I love Christmas time! We get out the box of ornaments, each with it’s memories, and hang them on the tree with Christmas music playing, and hot cocoa sipping, and new memory making.

IMGP1285 IMGP1286 IMGP1294Then we sit down and watch “White Christmas” while we string popcorn and cranberries.

IMGP1302 IMGP1305 IMGP1306‘Tis the season to be jolly.

 

 

This Moment – Ho, Ho, Ho

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

IMGP1300I’d like to quickly point out that The Princess is now wearing, loving, and looking awesome in the sweater that I made for The Boy three years ago!

 

Feeties!

Adding feeties to the bottoms of baby pants and longies may be a new hobby of mine.

IMGP1273

 

Picky Pants with my regular mods plus feeties! in Mosaic Moon Gaia Worsted in Selkie and Selkie Blurple trim (Rav page here)

It is a nice challenge to taper the legs down to the right stitch count for socks, while getting the legs long enough (but not too long) and wide enough. It is a special treat when they come out on the first try, which these didn’t. I frogged back several times and started thinking that I should just spring for a pattern, but I finally came up with a formula that worked.

IMGP1269Then I tried to add feeties to the chunky overalls that I was working on and had a slice of humble pie. Nevertheless, these turned out awesome.

IMGP1265

Said formula looks like this – decrease to approximately 22 stitches (depending on gauge of course); switch to 1×1 rib; work rib for about 1.5″; knit heel flap about 1.5″; pick up gusset stitches (two stitches every three rows); work standard gusset decrease to 2 or 4 stitches less than original amount; work to about 1″ shorter than desired length; decrease toe to approximately 10 st; kitchner graft toe.

A few tips if you want to try it -

Decrease the legs either gradually along the length or all at once and then work a few rows of ribbing. Continue the ribbing on the heel flap. This will help it fit right on the actual baby.

When decreasing for the gusset on the foot, work an extra decrease round or two so that the foot is not as wide as the leg.

Knit the foot a little longer than you would a normal sock or bootie to allow for growth. Same goes for leg length.

Don’t be afraid to play with it. It doesn’t hurt that bad to rip back because you are working with so few stitches, so try it and see what happens.

It really helps if you have a baby to try on the first leg before you make the second!