Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knitting update...

I haven't shared any knitty goodness lately. Thought I'd remedy that. First, a hat...

That one was one of my monthly charity hats. Really nothing exciting, but hopefully it will keep someone's head warm this winter. (And note the extreme enthusiasm on my son's face as he models the hat. Woo...stand back!)

And another hat...

And yet another...

These two are both two versions of a hat I've been designing. It is not a particularly complicated hat, but clearly I am not a natural-born designer because it has been taking me a while to get the pattern right! I hope to release it soon here on the blog and at that time, I'll post better pictures.

Lastly, not a knitting project but my crocheted granny square afghan made out of all my odd balls of Noro Silk Garden...

It's not very big...only about 40" square. But I love the colors and it makes a nice little lap blanket. 

I've been working on another project that is a super-surprise project that I can't show anyone yet. And, as always, there are things in progress. I wish I could say I'm working on a nice sweater for myself now that the cold weather seems to be arriving regularly, but I'm not. Why? Because all the nice, nice sweaters I've knit for myself in the past couple of years? They don't fit. They're all too big. Way too big. Sack-like. I'm swimming in them. Even the couple that are meant to fit looser -- like my February Lady Sweater and my two-toned Plymouth Tweed sweater from last year -- I thought I could get away with wearing them, but they just baggy and ill-fitting. I know it's a good problem -- I mean, it's a visual reminder of the 45 pounds I've lost so far -- but it's also pretty disheartening. All that nice yarn, all those hours of knitting all of those thousands of stitches. Unusable. 

Thus, I refuse to knit any more fitted garments for myself until I've stopped shrinking. At least that is what I'm telling myself right now. I'll probably renege on that eventually, but for now, I'll be knitting things where body size doesn't matter. Hats. Mitts. Scarves. SOCKS. Hey! My socks still fit...that's something!

And speaking of socks...Soctoberfest is just TWO DAYS AWAY! So very, very excited about that! My sock knitting mojo always wains in the summertime. But then fall rolls around and it starts to come back, and now for the second year, I intend to feed it by participating in Socktoberfest. Check out the deal on Lolly's blog, or check out the Rav group for it, and join in the sock-knitting fun! (Oh, and once again, Kirsten is creating another Mystery Sock pattern just for Socktoberfest. Can't wait to see what it is this year! It was so much fun to knit along on it last year, even if it did take me several months beyond October to finish my pair. :})

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox...

Happy first day of fall! Do you love this season as much as I do? It is my favorite season. It makes me very, very happy. And the fact that the trees have already begun to turn and it's been cooler than the usual September just makes me giddy. The fact that it's raining today can't even dampen my spirits. Fall is here. :)

One of my favorite things about fall? The light. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it. Light takes on different qualities in the fall. It's warm and golden, more subdued than the bright intensity of summer sun. The angle of the light is different, too. There are certain places in my house where sunbeams fall across the floor in  a way that only happens during autumn. And as the earth's angle changes, causing sunrise to happen later and sunset to happen earlier, the light and shadows in our yard are different than they appear any other time of year. They are comforting to me, these autumnal qualities of the light. They make me feel content, like all is as it should be in my little corner of the world. 

The photo above will be featured on the Variations on a Theme photoblog tomorrow. This week's theme is "Mornings," and I took this photo in an effort to try and capture the unique angle of the sunlight as it fell across our front yard yesterday morning. Please visit VoaT and check out the other photos we've been sharing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The tell-tale flutter...

It feels like hundreds of little moth wings, beating rapidly, approaching the inner wall of my chest. Do you know that feeling? 

Unlike butterflies in my stomach, which I associate with the anticipation of something good, moth wings in my chest are a harbinger of anxiety. I don't suffer from chronic or sustained anxiety issues, and I've definitely never had a full-on panic attack. But sometimes life gets a little crazy, and I find myself unable to keep up as well as I'd like. That's when the moths start coming, attracted to the firelight of my growing stress.

I knew this month was going to be a little nuts. Emerging from our summer slothiness, getting back into a regular routine of school...I expect it to be stressful. This being our first high school year, I expected higher than average stress. (I have not been disappointed.) September is also a big appointment month, as we all end up due for yearly check ups, dentist appointments, etc. Running to those makes for choppy, harried days. Then there is the usual fall cleaning and organizing I like to do before the cold months hit, which, this year, coincides with my mother's impending visit in early October. (Must! Clean! Now!) 

The bottom line is that I have felt behind for weeks. I'm tempted to think, in retrospect, that maybe our spontaneous trip to Chicago was a bad idea. I might have used that time more wisely. But no...it was a good trip, and I don't think those four days would have made a huge difference in the big picture. 

What's more pertinent, I realize, is how I'm using my time now. I'm trying so very hard, to use my time wisely. For one thing, I've adjusted my sleep schedule. I'm trying to be in bed by midnight and up by 8 a.m. daily. This is no small feat, night owl that I am. But I'm doing fairly well at it and it is making a difference. (It's amazing how much longer the day feels and how much more I can get done when I'm not sleeping most of the morning away!)

Another thing is that I've reverted to making lists. I used to be a huge proponent of to-do lists, but I got away from them in recent years, taking more of a laissez-faire approach to my days. Right now, I am so not in a laissez-faire stage of life. Lists have become my friends once again. They help keep me on track.

I'm trying, too, to stay off the computer more during the day, at least when it comes to things like the Ravelry boards, reading blogs and being on Facebook with it's crack-like applications, such as -- God help me -- Farkle (if you've never played Farkle, DON'T. I'm warning you now. Just say no!). 

Unfortunately, I'm also trying to be better about how much time I spend doing things like reading for fun, photography, knitting and spinning. The thing is, these are my sanity-savers, so I can't eliminate them. So, I'm using them, instead, as rewards for good behavior. Hey, it works for kids, right? :}

There are a few other stressors going on, but I have no control over them so I'm trying to just pray about them and let them go. These things I've listed here, though, are things I can do something about -- they are in my control -- so I'm trying to, well, control them. I have faith that over the next couple of months, I will get things in hand and the moths will go away. Until then, I'll be living with the flutter.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Project!

Just popping in with a shameless self-promotion.

My good friend Angela and I have started a photoblog together called Variations on a Theme. Each week, we'll be working with a particular theme, with each of us posting no more than one photo per day of something that represents that week's theme to us. We're encouraging visitors to our blog to participate as well by posting links in the comments to their own photos related to each week's theme.

We just finished our first week and had a lot of fun with it. Please come over and visit us!

And yes, I'll still be blogging here, too. Gotta talk about knitting somewhere, right?? LOL In fact, you can be pretty sure some knitting photos will be making regular appearances over at VOAT, too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall cleaning...

This picture is apropos of nothing I've written in this blog entry. I just wanted to share it because it is of my friend Sho-Sho, who WON her first kickboxing fight last weekend! How freakin' cool is that? She's awesome! Loved watching her fight and celebrating the win with her! And thanks to our other friend Hannah for taking the picture because I was a total photo slacker.

Yep, it's that time of year again. The time when I start to feel the urge to clean house, both literally and virtually. Some people do spring cleaning; I do fall cleaning. (With my mom coming to visit in early October, the importance of fall cleaning cannot be overstated. Ahem.)

I wanted to get the big cleaning jobs done over the summer months, namely the basement. Ugh. The basement. But did I? Did I use those three, long summer months for that good purpose? No. No I did not. And now I'm kicking myself. Alas, it will get done. Oh yes it will. It WILL get done.

Last evening as I was waiting for a friend at a coffee shop, I used my time to make a master list and I decided today to try and tackle at least five things on that list every day. Maybe not finish all five, but I would at least make progress on them. Today, pretty good...I got four of the five finished and did a couple more. If I can just keep that momentum going, I'll be golden!

As for my virtual housecleaning, I decided to clean up the blog a bit today. Gone is the Tour de Fleece '09 button. I'm not sure if I ever shared my TdF results here, but I did indeed accomplish my spinning goals in July, spinning up two different yarns to match the albums Team BKG were using for their TdF theme. I never bothered to download whatever button they had for the winners, though. But I know I was a winner, and that's what matters, right? ;)

I'm not sure if getting rid of the TdF button counts as cleaning, though, since I replaced it with the Facebook badge. Not sure if I like that there or not. We'll see.

Then there was my summer reading list, which is also gone. It was an ambitious list. A little too ambitious, as many of my lists are. But I did get some reading done this summer, reading that I enjoyed. The three titles I finished this summer were:
  • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson
  • The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coehlo
  • Dead to Me, by Anton Strout
I loved Joshilyn's book. I love all of her books. She is incredible with the words and the stories. Can't sing her praises nearly enough. I also really enjoyed Anton Strout's book. Very quirky genre, but a lot of fun to read. Loved the humor that is infused throughout. Sadly, though, I was not impressed with the Coehlo book. The Alchemist remains my favorite of all his books I've read. Most others have paled in comparison. Witch just didn't really do much for me. 

I did start to read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, but I didn't get far. I find the older I get, the less tolerance I have for books that seem to be one thing but are really just a venue for the author to spew his or her crankiness and cynicism. This is why I've stopped reading Anne Lamott's non-fiction. (Issues, baby...let 'em go!) Admittedly, I didn't get far enough into Shipmates to know for sure that was what was going on, but having read a couple other of Vowell's books, I'm pretty sure it was, and I just wasn't in the mood for it. Life's too short. 

I also started Strout's second book, Deader Still, a sequel to his first. Again, really fun read. I started it on our Chicago trip a few weeks ago and in fact spent all my airport and plane time on the trip home reading it. (I didn't knit a stitch! You know it had to be a good book!) But since getting home, I haven't had time to sit with it, so it remains unfinished. 

Did I say Chicago? Great! How about another picture then!

My great kids on our first day in the Windy (and hot and humid) City after we spent a few hours in the Shedd Aquarium. Chicago was such a cool city! I'll have to share more pictures from the trip soon.

And while the Ravelry work-in-progress widget isn't something I clean up here on the blog, I'll direct you to note that I have finished a few things, hence bringing the number of current projects down to seven. I finished the design project hat I was working on. I'm so anxious to release that, but I wanted to do matching mitts and haven't had time to work those out completely yet. I also finished my crocheted Noro granny square afghan. It's blocking now, so pictures will be forthcoming soon. I really love how it turned out! I'm finishing up my daughter's pillow project now, and then I have to do a special project that I won't even be listing on Ravelry for a while due to its secret nature. But then I'll get back to the WIP list. 

Ok...one more picture before I go, just because blog entries need pictures...

Our tomatoes all died off this year due to the blight, so I was in heaven yesterday when my friend Myrna shared some of her tomato abundance with me. I enjoyed the first of her tomatoes this morning in the form of a tomato and herb omelet. Mmm. And that scone there on the plate? That is one of the best cinnamon chip scones I've ever made!