Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last night we got to see a new little baby girl who had been born on December 26th. So sweet and full of hope for a new beginning at this time when we look back at the year behind us and think about the new year ahead. This is the quilt I made for her. It was fun to get back into sewing and I can definitely see quilting taking up a good amount of my time in 2010.

Wishing all my friends and family a happy new year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Could I be sick of knitting sweaters?

A funny thing happened on my way to finishing 12 sweaters for 2009. I finished #11 and then just lost the momentum. I hate to say this, but I was actually sick of knitting sweaters. I didn't even want to look at #12 which was actually over 50% finished. The holiday craziness hit, presents had to be worked on, cookies baked, well, you all know how that goes.

And then another funny thing happened. I started sewing. I brought that sewing machine out, started looking at all of the fabulous quilting cottons out there and jumped in with both feet. I finished a baby quilt for a friend's baby that was just born yesterday. And I made an apron for my sister from some beautiful Amy Butler cottons. I really wanted to keep that one for myself but I resisted. So now I have all of these quilting projects lined up for the new year. One of my favorite online fabric shops is the Fat Quarter Shop.

And as if that wasn't enough, my friend told me about the 10 Shawls in 2010 Ravelry group. As it turns out, I have been thinking about knitting shawls in 2010 so this fits right in with my plans. I'm also thinking about knitting as many of these from stash as possible because we are way out of control in that area. And now the fabric stash is increasing. Someone had better yell STOP!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Can Be Thankful on Saturday Too!

Somehow Thursday came and went and all of a sudden it's Saturday. But we can (and should) be thankful any and everyday.

This week I decided to focus on little (and perhaps silly) things for which I am thankful. It all started with a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond where I found new hangers. I always had issues with hanging my sweaters in the closet. They would always slip off of the hangers and my solution was to squish them as close together as I could so that they would kind of hold each other up. Then I brought home these new hangers with some sort of anti slip coating and the problem has been solved. Silly this may be, but it makes me so happy when I look into my closet and I can see my sweaters hanging so nicely.
I saw buds on my "Christmas" cactus this past week. It has been a fickle holiday plant with buds showing up anytime from Thanksgiving to Valentines Day. Looks like this year they decided to come early.

I am always thankful for my morning coffee, especially when I have it in one of my favorite mugs.

I am VERY thankful that I finally finished my daughter's quilt! She loves it and I love seeing it wrapped around her.

Monkeys on the front and wolves on the back.

So remember, it's not always the big things but the little things in each day that make us smile and remember how lucky we are.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things that keep me sane

I thought that this week I would think about things that I am thankful for that also help to keep me sane. Here goes:

1. My friends definitely help to keep me sane. I feel so lucky to have friends that I love - friends from my childhood, friends I know from work, friends I have met through knitting and other crafts. Friends are so important to have in my life - they know when to give advice and when to listen, they provide a shoulder to lean on when it's necessary, they put me in my place when I need it and provide laughter and comfort. I would be lost without my friends.

2. Another thing that helps me stay sane is my knitting. I can pull it out when I am waiting in line or when I need a distraction. I feel so proud when I learn a new skill or conquer that lace graph and I love successfully finishing a project whether it is for me or for a gift. It brings me comfort when I need it and lends a distraction when necessary.

3. Memories of my mom - she was always there for me, always such a quiet but strong person. She had very strong opinions about what she felt was right and she passed those strong emotions down to me. As I raise my daughter, I think about what my mom would have done and I wish she was still around for me to ask her questions. I hope that I make her proud.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Little at a Time

Well, the general consensus seems to be to just keep plugging away at getting rid of stuff - a little at a time. What's that saying - you can't organize clutter, you have to get rid of it. How true!! So that is what I am trying to do - and I will keep at it.

This has nothing to do with clutter, but it certainly makes me smile! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

I really have no reason to be in the mental slump that I'm currently feeling. There are so many things that I know I'm thankful for and yet I still feel dragged down. After reading Margene's post yesterday morning, I think I realize what may be contributing to this mood, at least in part. The simple answer is that there is just too much clutter and stuff around this house and it is dragging me down. I need to do something about it but sometimes it just seems so overwhelming and I don't know where to start. I try to do a little bit at a time but if I slack off, well, it just starts piling up again. One thing I definitely know is that I need to learn to let things go - both mentally and physically.

Carole's suggestion of Thankful Thursday may help me refocus on what I need to be thankful for - in other words, what is really important. So here goes - my first list of three.
  1. I am thankful for my family and for a daughter that I love so much. Those times when she says something so insightful - well that just blows me away. And then of course, there are those times that she is a typical nine year old and drives me nuts - but I guess that I'm thankful for those times too.
  2. In today's economy, I am so lucky to have a job that is secure - or at least as secure as a job can be these days.
  3. And the fact that I get to work part time - that makes it even better.

Thanks Carole, for a great idea!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

I decided to make an impromptu Halloween dinner last night. My daughter had a friend over so we invited her to join us.
We started with some Bloody Vampire Soup (dead fish optional).

We supplemented that with Snake Bites.

Yummy snake meat.

A delicious plate of spiders joined us for dessert - little did they know that they were dessert!

Whether you are in it for the tricks or the treats, have a wonderful Halloween!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Photographic Update

Where does the time go? Maybe I can show you some pictures of things we did over the summer? Are you ready!

We visited a beautiful penthouse in New York City and watched the sunset over the Hudson River.

Looking the other way, we could see the Empire State Building.

We met some great dogs! These Border Collies are amazing - they play ball, they herd children and are great fun to play with.

We went to horse camp and made horse cookies to share with our fellow campers.

We went on vacation to Florida and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel - by the way, they have a great pool.
We went upside down on scary rides.

This was probably one of my favorite things.

Hanging out with the dolphins at Sea World. We got to feed them, learn a little bit about how they are trained and even try some training signals ourselves. It was great fun!

Oh, and sweaters 8, 9 and 10 are done. Wanna see...

Details forthcoming. Now please tell me - where did September go?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Love those FO's

Sweater #7 has been done for a while and even worn a few times but I'm finally getting around to posting about it. It's the Lemongrass Bolero and it's been the perfect summer addition to my wardrobe. I had 3 skeins of Dream in Color Classy hanging out in the stash which I had originally bought for the Dream in Color Shrug but then changed my mind about making that. I went through several pattern ideas for this yarn before settling in on this one thanks to Meera's that I saw on Ravelry. It's perfect for throwing over a tank top especially at work where the air conditioning can make it a little uncomfortable.

I also finished knitting my Seraphim shawl which now, instead of sitting around on the needles, will be hanging around waiting for a bath and blocking.

And sweater #8 is on the needles - the Whisper Cardigan from Interweave Knits. I've started this a few times but was not happy with my initial yarn choice. I am now knitting with Malabrigo lace in the Lettuce colorway and I am totally swooning over this yarn. It is so soft - I imagine it must feel wonderful on.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting my money's worth

"I think you are going to get your money's worth." This is what my daughter said to me just before the Jonas Brothers took the stage at their sold out concert in Boston last Friday night. And even though she made me laugh with that statement, she was 100% correct. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I can honestly say that it was an awesome time. The music was great and my daughter and I shared a memorable experience together as we danced around to some fun songs.

It was fun watching the crowd which varied from children around 5 or 6 to teenage girls and parents. You could tell the parents that were merely along for the chaperoning - the ones sitting with their iPods or their books - but there were also the ones who like me, dancing along to the familiar music. I will admit that I didn't scream as much as many of the girls but I did have fun.

And yes, I definitely feel that I got my money's worth. Being able to share an experience like that with my daughter was priceless!

Monday, June 29, 2009

And the Sweaters Keep On Coming

Sweater #6 is finished and, thanks to Mother Nature, has even been worn already. Who would have thought I'd be wearing a wool sweater at the end of June. Presenting my May Day Lady sweater knit with Madelinetosh worsted in the Kelp colourway.

The buttons are "Beach Buttons" that I bought from Judy's booth at Cummington. They may turn out to be a little heavy for this sweater but we'll keep them on for a while and see how they do.

And of course I have started a new sweater - the Lemongrass Bolero. Here is mine being knit from Dream in Color Classy - Strange Harvest. Looking at these on Ravelry, I've liked the ones that have been knit a little longer so that's what I'm planning on doing.

I'll leave you with a shot of our dog's favorite spot at our annual Walk for the Animals which benefits our local shelter. We had a great day this year and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just a little reminder to head on over to Claudia's site and check out the wonderful prizes you could win by donating to her annual MS bike ride. Let's make Knitters Against MS number one again this year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Must Quit Foolin' Around

Ok, I really have to stop being distracted by other projects. I HAVE to work on sweater #6 - it is the middle of June already and instead of working on my sweaters, I have been knitting a couple of small projects.
Here are two I finished recently for a friend's baby shower. The Baby Bobbi Bear (my second) in Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Cotton (dog not included as part of gift) and a Sweet Pea Baby Hat from the Itty Bitty shop.
The cute baby hats are quite addictive and I've made two more since then (Upside Down Daisy hat and the Bumblebee hat) and started a third.

I've also started a Darkside Cowl with Sunshine Yarn in the Edward colorway (Twilight reference). I guess I'm easily amused, but I find it humerous to think of having Edward around my neck.

But, I need to focus on my goal of 12 sweaters this year and I need to get back to working on my February Lady sweater. I love working with the Madelinetosh yarn and already have more in my stash. It's just so soft and squishy and the color is perfect. And just wait and see the buttons I found - they are perfect for this.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bragging Rights

I’m so proud. Our local animal shelter sponsored a poster contest in the area schools and my daughter won second place in her age group. The theme for her grade was “Lost Pets + ID = Ticket Home” and this is her poster. She really loves doing artwork and comes up with some great ideas.

I also finished NaKniSweMoDo09 sweater #5 and my daughter has been wearing it almost everyday. This sweater was a quick and easy knit and she loves it. Ravelry details are here.

For the most part, my daughter has a great group of friends but we have run into some issues lately with parents whose parenting ideas are different than mine. For example, I usually like to be involved in what my daughter is watching on TV, what she is reading, what sites she is visiting on the internet. I feel that it is my responsibility to know what she is being exposed to and I know that as she gets older, I will lose more of this ability. But I would like her to get her information from her parents for as long as possible. Some of the girls in her class are reading the Twilight series and since I had never had any desire to read these books, I had no idea if there were any inappropriate parts for a nine year old. I asked some friends at work and I guess I could have checked with my knowledgeable library resource, but I agreed that she could read the books if we read them together. And let me tell you, I am so glad that I did. The woman at the book store hadn’t read them either but said that she heard they were like eating potato chips – you just couldn’t stop. And boy was she right. My only complaint is that my daughter gets upset if I read too far ahead but this is making the books last longer. Plus if I was reading all the time, there would be no time for knitting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fun with fiber in RI

Two fiber events are happening this weekend in Rhode Island and it’s a perfect time to visit.

On Saturday May 16th from 9 am – 4 pm, the third annual Rhode Island Wool and Fiber Festival will take place at Coggeshall Farm in Bristol. This event has gotten bigger each year and I have heard that there are more vendors this year than last. There will also be a fleece to shawl contest along with sheep shearing, a children’s craft tent, wool craft demonstrations and of course the wonderful animals. It is sure to be a fun time.

And then on Sunday there will be the 2nd annual Stitch and Pitch at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. This will be my first time attending one of these events and I’m really looking forward to it (and keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will behave). There is a ravelry link here for more information.

So come visit Rhode Island this weekend and have fun playing with fiber.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can't avoid those health issues

Yesterday I went for blood work and today I went to my doctor to hear my results. For the past few years I have been up and down with my cholesterol numbers – sometimes ok, sometimes not so good. Never great, never really bad – always somewhere in between. Every once in a while the option of medication will be discussed but as I said, the numbers are never bad enough to warrant it and I don’t have any other risk factors so we continue on with other lifestyle changes. Today was supposed to be a sort of deadline – if things didn’t improve we would try medication. So, I was kind of dreading today but also becoming resolved to the idea just in case. I think I almost tried to sabotage the blood work since I really didn’t eat too well this weekend. So, the blood was taken yesterday and I went in today for the results. And the result is … some small improvement (a lower overall number and the LDLs have also lowered) but the numbers are still not great. However, since things went in a good direction, we will once again stick with what I have been doing and I have a stay of execution as far as the medication is involved.

I know that this is a good thing, I really don’t want to be taking medication but I just wish it wasn’t this constant cloud hanging over my head. But I guess it is a lifestyle change and, like weight loss, will not happen overnight so I will continue to watch what I eat and try to increase my exercise (all good things). We recently got a Wii and I added the Wii Fit. I can honestly say that I am having fun with it – about 4 times a week, I set my alarm for 5:50AM and do my aerobics, yoga and strength training. I’m not so good at the balance games but do try those now and then. I take the dog for walks and the doctor suggested adding jump roping to my routine. My daughter will like this as she just did the Jump Rope for Heart at school and came home with 2 new jump ropes. Guess we can jump together.

I’m not planning on running any marathons, but always feel better when I add some exercise to my day. Then I don’t feel guilty about sitting down and knitting everyday – and I definitely feel that knitting is good for my mental and emotional health.

On another health note, Claudia is once again riding as #1 in the MS bike ride. So, head on over to her site and donate - let's keep her team as #1 again. If the good cause is not enough incentive, there are also great prizes to be won!!

Be healthy!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Still more sweater love

Finally - as promised. Sweater number 4 for NaKniSweMoDo09 - my Placed Cable Aran in Queensland Kathmandu Aran Tweed. Another great sweater/yarn combination. The yarn was wonderful to work with and I love the color variations. The pattern was also well written although I did need to lengthen my sleeves by about 6 inches. Not quite sure how this came about but it shows you the importance of measuring yourself or a favorite sweater and then going with that and not just trusting the knitted pattern. My collar is not as "cowly" (is that even a word??) as the pattern picture but it's comfortable and I'm happy. I also knit the body in the round up to the underarms to save on some finishing work. I've worn this several times and one girlfriend told me that this is her favorite one so far this year.
I broke down and am knitting sweater #5 for my daughter - a Liesl in Frog Tree Merino Melange. With the gauge I'm getting with this yarn and the size I need, I'm able to knit the 34" size on the pattern. And since my daughter wants this long (~15" from the underarm) and the longer sleeves, I'm definitely counting this as one of my NaKniSweMoDo09 sweaters.

Knit on!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A little bit of lace and a sweater

Well, after all of my big talk about good intentions, I have gone ahead and started a new lace project. When I first saw anne working on this, I fell head over heels and went right out and ordered the yarn even though the pattern wasn’t out yet. By the way, I also ordered more of Kim’s hand cream while I was ordering the yarn. You have to try this stuff – it is so awesome. I accused her of putting something addicting in it because that is exactly how I feel – totally addicted to the stuff. I don’t know if it the fragrance or what but I love this stuff. The smell, the feel – it’s not greasy and just absorbs wonderfully into your skin where you are left with this great smell and great feeling hands. Did I mention how much I love this hand cream?? Hold on a minute while I go get some. I wish there was some way you could try it virtually but alas, it’s all for me.

Oh, yes, I was telling you about my new lace project. Must have gotten distracted. Anyway, I have started anne’s Maplewing with my New England Red yarn from Kim and I love them both. Well, the pattern and the yarn, although the girls are pretty fantastic too. The one thing I REALLY love about this pattern is that it’s very intuitive. Now, I’m not as proficient in lace as some, but I have made a few things and there always seem to be a few rows where I’m just going on blind faith with regards to the pattern and I can’t seem to find a rhythm or an easy way of remembering what is going on in that row. And consequently, I can’t see where I may be off. So, when I get to the end of that row, I breathe a sigh of relief if the count works out and then cross my fingers on the way back that everything will line up correctly. With this pattern I have found a rhythm in every row and I can tell within a few stitches if I am off or have made an error so it’s quick and easy to fix it. OK, don’t laugh, I have only done the first 5 rows but I can tell that the first Chart will definitely be like this all the way. I decided to make the tall size so the cast on was a bit overwhelming, but I figured I have the yarn and when I measured my Moth shawl, the dimensions were closer to the tall size so my decision was made.

And yes, I’m still working on sweaters. The Placed Cable Aran (ravelry link) was sewn up tonight as I was watching Season 4 of Sex in the City. Pictures will be taken soon - maybe I can wear it tomorrow!!

Enough reading – go out and make something crafty!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Can you guess?

Just thought I'd show you the cupcakes I sent in for my daughter's class last week for April's Fools. Another great design from Hello Cupcake. Did you guess what these are supposed to be? I'll give you a hint - it's 2 vegetables that often come together.
Peas and carrots. Cute, huh!! The peas are green M&M's and the carrots are orange Starburst cut into quarters.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Goin’ Loopy

Isn’t life great!! I am thrilled that even after I have been knitting as long as I have, there are still new things I can learn. The girls at my Friday knitting group showed me how to do Magic Loop and I must say that I love it!!

See that picture – it’s the start of a hat. This Through the Loops beret to be exact out of Misti Alpaca worsted which I picked up at 40% off out of the sale bin at KnitKnack. Great pattern, great yarn and a great new technique. What’s not to love!!

There is one thing that I wish. As I was going all crazy, doing the happy dance after learning how to Magic Loop, I thought about other areas in my life where I may need to learn new things and wondered why I couldn’t be so excited all of the time. For example, I need to learn some new skills for my project at work and I must admit that I can’t get so thrilled about it. I wish I could, but the emotion is just not there (it’s a good possibility that my good friend and also the lead in my group at work may be reading this – hi Wendy!!). Wouldn’t it make for a more pleasant environment if I could get as psyched about my project at work as I can about my crafts? Now, I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy my job – there are many good things to say about it. I work with a great group of people and have some very close friends there. And I have been involved in some really interesting work. But there are many times during the day where my mind will wander off to the sweater I’m knitting or the quilt I am sewing – these are the things that keep me going.

Maybe that’s why they call it work and my extracurricular activities are what I do for fun. Make some time for fun in your day – every day!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Finished Chamomile

My third sweater is complete but it won't be worn until it gets a bit warmer out. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that I've made three sweaters and I love them all. They all fit, feel comfortable and are sweaters I will love to wear. With careful planning, I'm hoping my good luck will continue.

I ended up making my Chamomile a bit longer in the body and I started the front opening a few rows later than the pattern suggested. I do want to be able to wear this to work. I am really happy with the way this third sweater knit up.

Just to clarify yesterday's post, I too am all for making more knitted shawls and all other sorts of knitted items. My problem is that I know I could fall into the trap of casting on for way too many projects and that would not be a good thing for me. What is that saying? Jack of all trades and master of none. Well, I would be the starter of many projects and the finisher of none :)! One reason that NaKniSweMoDo is working for me is that I have been trying to make a conscious effort to knit on only 2 sweaters at a time. Then when I finish one, I can cast on for another. That is not to say that I haven't been spending a lot of time thinking and planning about what to make. Right now, I could easily cast on for at least 5 or 6 sweaters, 4 or 5 shawls and numerous hats, socks, mittens and scarves. But then I don't think I would be making any progress on anything and I'm not sure it would be fun - more stressful than not. So, that was my point and something I have definitely learned about my personality.

Knit on and have fun!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Responsible Thing to Do

I try to live responsibly. I bought those great Sigg water bottles for myself and my daughter so that we wouldn't be buying and using all of those plastic water bottles. I recycle whenever I can and I do try to help others. So, when faced with the idea of bringing another shawl into this world right at this moment,
I thought to myself, what is the responsible thing to do. Is it right to start another shawl when I have a half finished one sitting unloved in my closet? For me, the answer is a definite NO. So, I am resurrecting Seraphim
and working on that in between my sweaters before I start Desdemona.
But I will admit that it can be hard to be good. After all of my good intentions, anne has just released the Maplewing pattern and I already have the yarn from Kim sitting in my stash. What's a girl to do??? Isn't that shawl one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen??!! Of course I ran to her site to purchase the pattern as soon as I found out it was published. I have not wound up my yarn yet, but it is probably only a matter of time. Once again I will admit it - I'm weak!!