Jan 052015

In the past, my yearly reflections and goals have tended to focus on quantity – – how many yards of yarn will I knit, how many sewing skills will I learn, how many miles will I ride on my bike, how many races will I finish.  While it’s good to have measurable goals, they tend to cater to my Type A / control freak personality and, if there’s anything that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that I ought to depend less on my ability (or, as is usually the case, my inability) to control things and instead learn to appreciate all of those little things that can make life so wonderful.  In this coming new year, if all works out, Josh and I will be embarking on an entirely new set of adventures, adventures that might be so far beyond my control that I might finally learn this important lesson.

Slow Down, Reflect, and Appreciate

While it may have escaped the attention of my blog, I worked hard this past year.  I spent the first part of last year, updating and revising some older knitting patterns and then spent the second half releasing new patterns – – all in all, it was one of my most productive years.  At the Day Job, I experienced tremendous upheaval and variations in my responsibilities, without losing my marbles and, I think, maintaining an even keel.  In the garden, I sowed, grew, maintained, and harvested a ginormous amount of crops and ornamentals – – months after the final harvest, I have a chest freezer full of food from my garden, from which I regularly make meals for Josh and I.  As but one specific example, I tended to 41 tomato plants, which is a ridiculous amount of tomatoes for a two person family (six, if you count the chickens, who definitely enjoyed their fair share of tomatoes).

In the coming year, I want to slow down, reflect, and appreciate.  I want to be less focused on how many knitting patterns I release, I want to feel no guilt at how much or how little I sew, I will have a much smaller (and more efficient) garden, and I am not going to obsessively track my running and biking miles.  I want to work on knitting patterns when I feel inspired to do so, I want to sew when I am excited about a project, I want to garden for the joy of gardening, and I want to ride my bicycle because it’s a fun activity.  Already in the throngs of the new adventure, I have been exhausted beyond belief.  While I anticipate the exhaustion to subside, I want to get away from my compulsion to do, do, DO, more, more, MORE, and instead enjoy and appreciate my experiences.

An Adventurous Spirit

The thing about adventure is that it’s not really an adventure if you are determined to control it.  It’s not an adventure if the outcome is known before the beginning.  So much of my life, I do the same thing over and over, and what I do generally has expected outcomes.  I go to the same restaurant and order the same thing.  I set out on a hike, and travel the same route each time.  When everything I do is the same as the other thing that I did, the days become indistinguishable from each other and I forget that life can be a great adventure.  Part of the shift in focus from doing more to appreciating experiences is also enjoying and being curious about the unknown and excited by possibilities.


Dec 222014

With the longest night of the year in the past, I am excited for more sunshine in my life.  The SADs haven’t hit too hard this year, though in the past few weeks I’ve had several evenings where I felt pretty listless and weird.  I love the summers, when the sun doesn’t set until 10pm, but I really struggle in the winter when it’s dark by 4:30.

Of course, the best way to beat the SADs is to stay busy!  Josh and I have been trying to go on some adventures when the weather permits.  Last weekend, we went out to the Bruneau Sand Dunes and had a glorious day hiking around in the sunshine.


Several weeks before that, the only thing to do was snowshoeing on a very gray day.  Part of our challenge this year of doing adventures is that we haven’t been feeling in top form – – Josh hurt his back while riding his bike on the ice and I’ve been feeling off.


I’ve been doing a lot of knitting and sewing.  This is a doubleknit blanket that I am working on, to stash bust a lot of Jamieson DK wool that has been collecting dust for a long time.


The pattern is derived from my Whorl Cowl, which I recently released and haven’t gotten around to writing anything about.


And I’m almost finished with my coat (just need to add one more toggle button).  This project has been such a SLOG and I kind of want to hide the coat away and never look at it again.


I have started on a fun sewing project!  I’m making foam blocks, using upholstery foam and fat quarters.  I saw the idea on Pinterest and it seemed like such a fun and easy project, perfect to get over the slog coat project.


Interestingly, none of the helpful Pinterest tutorials mentioned anything about how to actually cut upholstery foam.  At first, I tried taking scissors to it, which resulted in a horrible butcher job.  I also tried a variety of knives before doing research about how best to cut it.  The internet suggested that an electric carving knife would be best.  So I headed out to various thrift stores, on a mission to find a used one.  And much to my delight, I only had to go to two thrift stores before I found one and it was only $5!  As you can see, it cuts the foam pretty well!


And I’ve got a couple of blocks done!  This project is nice because the fabric is so easy to work with (as opposed to thick layers of wool and fleece) and is pretty satisfying in how quick and easy it is to make up a single block.  I’ve got enough foam for 49 blocks.


I’m also gearing up to start working on this blouse in some nice Ana Sui shirting that I got on sale from Mood.

Anyway, sorry for the silence around here.  The SADs definitely make me less motivated to keep up with the old blog!


Jul 072010

A little over a year ago, Josh and I moved into our current apartment. As this apartment is adjacent and identical to his previous apartment, except for the moving-in-with-me bit, it was not much of a change for him (though, I’m sure he would articulate that moving in with me was the best thing that ever happened to him… ahem). For me, it was a big change and I can say confidently that this is the best apartment I have ever inhabited. Obviously, living with Josh is AMAZING! Less obvious are the various amenities that this apartment provides (that my previous apartments lacked): on site laundry, a functioning air conditioning unit, good water pressure in the shower, sound proofing between neighboring apartments, etc., etc. Except for the living-with-Josh bit, my favorite aspect of this apartment, however, is the patio. Not only am I able to have my very first plot of soil in which to grow my very first garden, but having recently procured some patio chairs and a table, it has become my favorite space to relax.

I eat most of my meals on the patio. I do most of my reading and knitting on the patio. In the evenings, I enjoy tea or mojitos (adorned with mint from my herb garden) on the patio. Life is good with a patio. (In the above photo, Josh and I were enjoying some evening reading over beers and moments of conversation).
As far as my garden grows, soon I hope to harvest my first tomato and then a cucumber! And the thrills do not end there… I’ve got eggplants about to fruit, beans coming up, kale, broccoli, spinach, peppers, radishes, and a supply of herbs to last until winter. The only plantlife not living up to my expectations are the yellow squash, who appear to not be getting pollinated.

In knitting knews, since finishing school, I have been spending most of my knitting time working on my own patterns. At present, I have a pattern that is going through the test knitting process and I hope to have it available for download by the end of the month. The test knitting process I have found rewarding in a number of ways. Not only is it satisfying seeing everyone’s project photos and getting feedback, but it has been an interesting exercise in writing clarity. In fact, you can forget graduate school for working your mental neurons, going through the knitting pattern testing process really makes a person think! And in a good way – – it’s comparable to working a fun and challenging puzzle like sudoku.

As far as reading goes, I’ve blown through the first two books in the Stieg Larsson trilogy and I anticipate finishing the last one very soon. Being not in school is awesome! One of my daily internet visits is to browse the limited time free books for the Kindle – – this has facilitated my downloading hundreds of books for free (including the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was free for about a week on Amazon). I’ve built up such a vast e-library that it is exciting to consider which book I might read next. …On my patio with some knitting and a mojito with mint from my garden, no less!!!

Jul 102008

Really, truely, I have no idea why my grand mind is unable to wrap itself around lace. And this is an easy lace pattern. Those of you who scrutinized the previous photo of my shawl were undoubtedly horrified by all of the mistakes. I have since unravelled the whole thing for about the fifth time. And behold, my sixth revision of the Swallotail Shawl. At this juncture, I’m wondering if lace does not go well with beer. I know, I know, how can something not ‘go well’ with beer??? I, too, am shocked by my statement. I also expect that some of you may wish that I had provided a photo that more clearly depicted the knitting, instead of this one, which shows the lace all bunched up in an indiscernable glob. Normally, knitters tend to want to show off their handiwork, allowing the details to stand out for appreciation.
**EDIT** Gar! Over my noonhour, I brought out the knitting in the hopes of completing a few more rows. Upon completing the second row, I noticed that I had dropped a stitch on the previous row. As any lace knitter should know, dropping a stitch in lace has far-reaching and disasterous consequences. This is to say that I did not merely drop ONE stitch, but the stitch that was dropped had knitted THREE stitches together, and those three stitches were also not composed of a single knit. There is a HUGE hole running down the whole damn shawl. As I can’t bear the thought of casting on yet again, I am forfeiting this entire project. Polka Dot Jersey be damned. This project, while most certainly easy for others, has been the antithesis of everything that I find good and joyful about knitting. I am eager to resume work on my fugly Kaffe Fassett-inspired skirt (I am calling it Oolong), or to begin an entirely new project. **END EDIT**
Speaking of beer, I’ve recently discovered a new favorite brew, the Anderson Valley Summer Solstice which is fantastic. Their Boont Amber is good as well, but the Solstice is truely delictable! Additionally, as evidenced by that above photo, I only recently realized that Mothership Wit is organic.
In life news, I’ve had a number of fun time adventures recently which I should really get around to aknowledging on the internet. Firstly, a shout out to good friends! I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends recently which has been lovely. I believe that I mentioned the pool party that was had a few weeks ago – – thanks to Amy for instigating that one. A few weekends ago, Leah and I hiked the Polecat Trails. This past weekend, much fun was had during the 4th of July in which a number of people gathered to watch the City’s fireworks display at the park. Elizabeth and Edvin met Josh and I for beers (see above: Anderson Valley Summer Solstice) and then Josh’s mom joined us for a bike ride to the park. Ah yes! Josh’s mom is in town and because Josh is always working to promote the way of the bicycle, he convinced her to buy a bike! (How she’ll get it back to Arkansas, I have no idea)
Then, last Saturday, Josh, Josh’s mom, and I took a trek up to Idaho City for the day. Photos from that adventure are available on my Idaho City Photoset. We had a pleasant time walking all around the town and exploring. One noteworthy event was when we were exploring some rusted machinery from the mining era and we found a snake in the process of defecating! It was both fascinating and gross all at the same time. We also had the opportunity to watch a Fast Draw competetion.

Jul 072008

First and foremost, I am currently participating in my very first knitalong. Those of you knon-knitters out there may ask, “What is a knitalong?” In a nutshell, it is when one knits along with others. This particular knitalong is themed after the Tour de France and everyone is assigned to teams that correspond to the actual teams in the Tour. I, for example, have been assigned to Team Silence-Lotto, which obliges me to root for one of the more attractive riders – – Go Robbie! In addition, the knitters are grouped into classifications to determine their knitting project. One of the organizers has developed some nice artwork for the knitters to display their classification (see below). I have the polka dot jersey classification, which stipulates that I must do a challenging knitting project involving a new skill.

For my project, I have chosen the Swallotail Shawl, which was to be an ode to the interplay between bicycle and rider, with each yarn over representing the ticking over of another pedal stroke (or something cheesey like that). Lace (beyond a four row repeat) is very challenging for me. On Saturday, I cast on using Classic Elite Silky Alpaca lace yarn. It’s caused me a number of headaches – – I’ve cast on, ripped out, re-cast on many many times. I even tried another (thicker) yarn, thinking it was the yarn’s fault (not mine). Alas, it was not the yarn’s fault. I even contemplated casting on an entirely different project. For me, this project has become my own personal Alpe d’Huez. blech.

In other knews, I have completed my first thrift store sweater recycling. From Goodwill, I located this XL-size Alfani sweater for $2.50. The fiber content is nothing spectacular, a cotton-nylon blend, but it was mostly for practice. For anyone who is interested in this process, I would HIGHLY recommend a thorough reading of the online tutorial. For me, this was good practice – – I experienced a bit of frustration that could have been avoided, had I engaged in a more thorough reading of the tutorial. But there was considerable learning involved and I am confident that this will be a good method for me to continue with my knitting hobby without breaking the bank. Below are photos depicting the sweater sections, unraveling the sweater onto my new swift, the ramen-noddley yarn before dunking it into water, hanging the yarn with some weight to get the kinks out, and finally, my three ‘cakes’ of yarn ready for knitting! I would have four cakes, but one ramen-noddley yarn section became much too tangled and I was forced to throw it away in complete irritation (see above, thorough reading of the online tutorial to avoid aggravation).

In other FOs, I recently finished my Logan River Scarf knit with the glorious Noro Silk Garden. Silk Garden is lovely. I was delighted to locate three skeins in the same colorway that had somewhat subdued colors.

And finally, I have fixed the error in my Ruffled Jacket. Josh was kind enough to take this very awesome photo of it.