Archive for category Knitting Goals

The Big News

This may end up being a much longer post than my norm.  But I really do want to let you in on a few things that have happened over the course of the year that have caused me to refocus!

In case you didn’t pick up on the little hint in the last post, one of the biggest changes is that I am now a first-time homeowner.  M and I moved into our first house back in July and we’re absolutely in love with our new home!  Of course, one of the wonderful joys of owning a house: LOTS of projects!  We were very lucky to find a house that was completely move-in ready and there still aren’t any major projects that are needed.  We are incredibly grateful!

That being said, the projects I’m referring to are not major renovations and I have, sadly, done absolutely no furniture building thus far.  At this point, we’re only working on organizational systems and little crafty projects to make the house feel like home.  But we’re loving every minute of it (even when it means I have to go up on the roof)!

One of the other major changes is that M is now in grade school! Not only is this just awesome and she impresses me daily, but it also means so many adjustments to our daily lives.  Instead of driving her to daycare every day, at whatever time fit with my work schedule, we’re now pressed to drop her off at school right when the school opens so that I can get to work on time.  Plus, we have to pack her lunch EVERY DAY!  The HORROR! 😉 *yes, I know we were super spoiled before….. and I only mini-miss it..*

Obviously, packing a lunch isn’t the end of the world and, sometimes, it’s even super fun when I can get M involved.  But packing a lunch for a child who was lucky enough to be served a healthy, hot lunch everyday at her old daycare tends to be a crazy challenge.  Especially when most of her suggestions go like this:

M: How about soup?

Me: To eat cold? There are no microwaves…

M: Oh.  What about pasta?

Me: Still no way to heat it up….

M: Right…. ummmmmmmmmmmmm

Regardless, we’ve managed to make preparing her lunches almost an easy experience… after a few months of practice!

The final major change isn’t quite as upbeat as the other two, though it’s really not the end of the world.  I toyed with whether or not to mention it – but in the end, it will be a major part of my life now – and maybe discussing it here could help others who may be dealing with a similar issue.  I won’t go into a lot of detail in this post, as I’d like to give people the option to easily skip over a post about medical issues – which has little to do with the general crafty-nature of this blog.

However, I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis a few months ago after experiencing pain very similar to the pain I had prior to having my gallbladder removed last summer.  After freaking out thinking the major organ that had been attached to my gallbladder (i.e. – my LIVER) was failing (truth – the pain really does radiate throughout the chest making it incredibly difficult to really localize), my awesome specialist was able to confirm somewhat quickly – after many tests – that I have moderate Gastroparesis.  My specialists explained it to me as this: if I eat the same meal as a “normal” person – in three to four hours, the other person’s stomach would be empty.  Mine? Still half full.  I’m still super holding onto that optimistic “half-full” concept 😉

Since I am still in the “moderate” zone of this condition, and due to the amount of pills I have to ingest for another unfortunate condition, my doctor and I agreed that for now we would try to maintain my health through dietary changes.  This is DEFINITELY still a work in progress. A couple times a week, I’m on a liquid diet to give my stomach a much-needed break.  I was warned that the best possible way to keep my stomach happy is to “eat” like I don’t have teeth.  Smoothies are my best friend.  Too bad I love solid food.  So everything in moderation has become an extreme and I’m struggling to find a balance with still enjoying food (even my love of salads isn’t helping me here) while not causing extreme pain that makes me want to both scrunch up in a ball of pain and bend all the way backwards to somehow stretch my stomach out… it’s bizarre, I know.

Though I’m not likely to spend many days writing about these struggles – there may be instances, especially during the holidays, when this condition will play a major role in our lives and will probably sneak its way into posts.

All in all, I certainly cannot complain about the past year.  I have so much to share with you all and I can’t wait to get started! I promise much more crafty-talk and pictures to come soon!! Now to get caught up with work so that I have the time to fill you in on all the exciting things we’ve been doing!!

 

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Reintroduction

To say it’s been a while would be both obvious and a huge understatement.  I could, and probably should, make a lot of excuses, such as how many life changes have occurred over the last year, but excuses would make it sound like I’m sorry for the things that have happened.  For the most part, I’m not.  Of course, there are always a few things a year we wish we could change or do differently. But my life has taken some wonderful new turns and instead of using them to explain my absence – I’d rather begin to explore some of them here on the blog.

Along with these new changes, my daughter and I have added a few more hobbies to our already fun juggling act called life.  Does that mean that I have suddenly stopped all knitting and this will turn into completely different content?  Of course not!  But it does mean that in addition to the knitting and spinning, there will be some more crochet, home improvement projects, gardening, weaving and other fun crafting/DIY/parenting experiments mixed in.  My original intent for this blog was to be open and honest about my life as a single parent raising a daughter with the outlook of taking on anything ourselves.  So to only share some of our crafting life and leave everything else out feels insincere.

I hope you join us in this new chapter of our lives and feel free to share some of your life changes and accomplishments this past year!

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Falling in Progress

Apples are currently in the crock pot, the smell of cinnamon is wafting through the air.  I have a new project on the needles and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the perfect first day of Fall.  Of course, the change in seasons brings some unpleasant things as well… such as seasonal allergies and the cold which our house has already been overtaken with.  But I refuse to let that bring me down.  This is my favorite time of year and I won’t let anything get in my way.  We have apple picking and American Football.  Then there’s pumpkin patches and fall vegetables.  To top it all off: we’re attending the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend to kick off the start of sheep & wool festival season.  There is just too much to look forward to!

With that said, Fall also brings the want… no, the NEED to cast on nearly everything in sight.  All I long to do is sit in a big pile of all of my yarn and decide what to do with it all.  And then do it.  I cast on a cowl last night out of some handspun that would have been a crime to have stored away another Fall and Winter.  I plan to cast on another cardigan in the next few days for my mom (that’s right, I said ANOTHER).  I’ve already planned enough knitting and spinning to last me all the way through to next Spring and I just can’t stop.  The only trouble is, I would need to seriously tap into my mythical free time to actually get it all done.  Clearly, the cinnamon fumes are getting to me.

Coming back to reality, I realize that I need to first finish a lot of projects.  Sure, the knitting is complete.  But I have a sweater for M, a cardigan for me (more to come in another post), two cowls and two wraps that need ends woven in, to be blocked and buttons sewn on so they can all be worn and enjoyed this Fall.  To accomplish this, I have at least gathered them all into a bag and placed it next to my favorite chair in the living room.  I’ve even conveniently left a sewing needle next to said chair to facilitate weaving in all the ends.  Plus, I’m convinced I will block at least one piece each night for the next week.  Because, really, who knows how many knit pieces I will want to wear this weekend!

It’s time to go stir the apples and breathe in some more energizing Fall fumes.  Tell me, what are your lofty Autumn plans and goals?

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Stash Dash & Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

To say my summer goals were lofty would not exactly be crazy… but they were nothing beyond what I’ve pushed myself to do in the past.  This year, though, everything seemed to converge making this summer a huge crafting fail.  Between work, taking an actual vacation, and a sudden (but now seemingly taken care of) health situation, I had less time to do everything I planned on.  Sure, I thought I planned according to my vacation time and my life in general… but clearly I was lying to myself.

Let’s start with the Stash Dash goals:  Knit smaller projects mixed in with three large projects (2 sweaters and my Viajante by Martina Behm) and spin as much as possible to use and/or create 5K of yarn.

The result:

Gobi Cowl by Marlaina "Marly" Bird - 196 yards

Gobi Cowl by Marlaina “Marly” Bird – 196 yards

296 yards spun from Rambouillet batts

296 yards spun from Rambouillet batts

138 yards spun from punis by Unwind Yarn Company

138 yards spun from punis by Unwind Yarn Company

615 yards of Polwarth spun in the Tickled Pink colorway from Into the Whirled

615 yards of Polwarth spun in the Tickled Pink colorway from Into the Whirled

Melvin's Dog Sweater - 236.6 yards

Melvin’s Dog Sweater – 236.6 yards

246 yards of Shetland spun in the Costume Ball colorway from FiberFancy

246 yards of Shetland spun in the Costume Ball colorway from FiberFancy

M. Richard the Whale by Stacey Trock - 438 yards

M. Richard the Whale by Stacey Trock – 438 yards

Sunnyside Cardigan by Tanis Lavallee - 400 yards

Sunnyside Cardigan by Tanis Lavallee – 400 yards

Toe-Up Socks - 294.4 yards

Toe-Up Socks – 294.4 yards

That left me at only 2,860 yards – 2,608 yards short.  It was a pretty epic fail.  No knitting was accomplished on any sweater. Though much of my Viajante was complete, no matter how hard I could have pushed myself at the end, I wouldn’t have made the deadline – and would have still been 608 yards short.

As for Tour de Fleece, even though I only managed to finish one of the many spinning projects I had hoped to complete during the Tour (the FiberFancy Shetland shown above), I felt a bit better about it.  I did spent a lot of the Tour riding in a car to and from New York and Boston – making spinning nearly impossible.  I did bring two drop spindles with me in hopes of working on, and maybe even finishing, the two braids of fiber.  But I was on vacation.  Unlike last year, this vacation was not a knitting retreat and between beach-going and meeting with friends I hadn’t seen in years, I just didn’t find the time.  Which was perfectly alright with me.

Since I find myself at almost the end of summer having failed at my crafting goals, I’ve decided to redirect myself toward fall crafting and creating some goals to carry me through to the end of the year.  That’s right people, Christmas is around the corner!  But first, I’ll let you in on all the fun summer crafting I did with my daughter in the next post!

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Summer Project Planning

With hot weather looming outside everyday and the prospect of having any and all wool stick to me upon contact, my summer crafting usually has to be pretty thought out.  Between taking M to the pool and actually letting her play outside in the disgusting heat (I’m clearly not a big fan of being hot), I have found that small portable knitting projects get the most attention.  That being said, two of my favorite events happen every summer – Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece – both of which require serious planning.

Stash Dash, hosted by TheKnitGirllls, is running from May 23rd to August 7th this year and the goal is to knit/spin/use 5K of yarn.  If I only work on small projects all summer, I would not only go out of my mind, but I would likely never reach this goal.  I would waste so much time in between projects deciding what I felt like working on next.  I very easily get analysis paralysis…

In order to minimize the time wasted in this manner, I’ve lined up some of the larger projects I would like to accomplish this year that would seriously help reach the 5K goal.  Since I won’t likely bring these projects on our outdoor “adventures”, I will be certain to have a smaller project on the needles at all time.

  1. Viajante by Martina Behm (this has been on the needles since July 2013 and seriously needs to be finished)
  2. Anna Maria Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio (the sweater I was knitting for my mother until I realized it was large enough to fit three of her and needs to be re-cast on)
  3. Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits (hopefully to be my Rhinebeck Sweater)

It is also unlikely that I will be able to knit quickly enough to accomplish this entire goal.  Luckily, spinning also counts – and that’s where Tour de Fleece comes in.  Running from July 5th to July 27th, Tour de Fleece is the perfect motivation to spend some serious time spinning in the comfort of my air conditioning.  I don’t ask for much, but I do require it to be 80 degrees or cooler in order to spin without feeling like I’m felting the fiber before it even reaches the orifice of my wheel…

This year, however, Tour de Fleece seemed to sneak up on me – as did the month of July in general.  I originally intended on spinning my Jacob fleece batts and having it either all ready to ply or completely finished by the end of the Tour.  Since it began on July 5th and I realized the day of that I had projects going on nearly all of my bobbins and both of my drop spindles, I decided to change things up a bit.

I would like to be able to clean and condition my wheel before spinning my Jacob fleece, so I’ll need all of the bobbins cleared to do that properly.  So…. you guessed it – my goal is now to finish all of the spinning projects I have in the works… or at least the ones not on storage bobbins.  The current hope – and by that I clearly mean plan – is to clear these off my wheel and my spindles:

Loop Bullseye Bump - Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

Loop Bullseye Bump – Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

KnittyAndColor - Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

KnittyAndColor – Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

FiberFancy - Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

FiberFancy – Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns - BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns – BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co - Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co – Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

This is also a much better goal as I will be doing a bit of traveling and it is much more reasonable to bring along a drop spindle or two than to bring my wheel along for the ride.  Not to mention a lot less annoying for those I’ll be traveling with!

What are your crafting goals for the summer?  Planning any Christmas in July crafting to get a head start on your gifts basket? Please share to keep me… inspired? …paralyzed by all the possibilities?

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The New Toy

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Enough said.  Right?  It’s now pretty clear why I referred to it as the best Mother’s Day/Christmas/Birthday present ever.

I suppose I could give some details.  It is the Strauch Petite drum carder and we were able to leave Maryland Sheep and Wool with one in hand from the Stony Mountain Fibers booth.  Though I had to wait several hours before I could open it up and try it out – as soon as I could, I made a few small batts out of some washed, but unprocessed, Rambouillet I had picked up at a Uniquities Fiber Farmer’s Market.  It was amazing and I am hooked.

Since Maryland Sheep and Wool, I have now made those batts and then…..

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I finished processing the Jacob fleece.  That’s it.  The entire fleece, all rolled into little batts of happiness and joy.  I no longer have to wonder if I will ever have the entire fleece combed and ready to be spun for Tour de Fleece 2018… No.  It’s ready for THIS year’s spinning enjoyment.  I could maybe even dream of having the sweater coat knit by the end of this year.  Plus, I would much rather spin this in a true woolen-style (long-draw and carded, not combed) and three-ply it so I can have a nice aran(ish) weight yarn.

So, in about two and a half weeks the jacob fleece turned into this:

IMG_8332 IMG_8333IMG_8339 IMG_8340IMG_8335I chose to card the fleece into batts that would all have a variety of the colors of this spotted fleece.  They are all mostly the dark brown with strips of gray and white.  This way, it will have more of  a tweedy look, instead of running the wool through the carder several times and making it a more consistent color throughout.

I am incredibly anxious to start spinning it up.  But I am going to be patient and finish all other spinning projects first and clean my ladybug to prepare her for the Tour de Fleece.  When I will attack.

 

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Festival Prep

It’s that time again.  We’re kicking off this year’s festival season (aka – most of the year) with the spectacular Maryland Sheep and Wool.  After M’s fantastic experience at Rhinebeck in October, we are bringing both of my parents to MDSW to ensure that she has all the fun she wants while I still have the time to hit up all of my favorites.  So, what’s the game plan?  Simple: stick to my goals for the year.  No yarn, just fiber.  Oh, and no going crazy and blaming it on the wool fumes.

So easily said.  But let’s face it, with a vendor list full of some of my favorite Indie dyers and local or local-ish farms, it can be incredibly difficult to not get overwhelmed by all the pretty and not feel like I need to buy something from all of them.  This year, however, I will stick to the game plan.  I will be reserved.  I will enjoy all of the beautiful things and not feel the obligation to literally bring them all home with me.  I will hold to the rule of taking a full lap through before buying anything.  Since I will not always have to walk at M’s pace of running and stopping every five seconds and getting side-tracked, I will be able to do said lap much more quickly so that I can then wander peacefully to pick up whatever I could not forget about on my second lap.  I will then relax and take in the rest.  There will be some serious face time with some sheep.  M and I will likely do a follow-up from Rhinebeck and stare at them for at least an hour.

I may sound incredibly crazy and foolish making all of these bold statements and promises to myself.  But I want this to not feel like some crazy, overwhelming race to spend all of my money, to then come home thoroughly exhausted and feel like I didn’t get to truly enjoy anything.  I don’t want to impulse buy and then find that I have no where left to store anything because my yarn and fiber no longer fits in it’s designated place.  No.  I want to come home knowing that I do still have some willpower while being able to get out there and enjoy myself.

The only thing that may make me slip-up: M bringing me a skein of yarn and saying in her sweetest, yarn-loving way: “Mommy, would you knit me something out of this?” or the new favorite “Will you save this yarn for me so I can use it when I’m a grown-up and learn to knit?”.  Gets me every time.

I look forward to sharing my hopeful success next week.  Even if I don’t hold as strong as I’d like to all of the above, I am certain I’ll come home feeling like it was a win.  If you plan on attending fiber festivals this year, what’s your game plan? Also, if you’ll be at MDSW on Sunday, I will be certain to wear my Ravelry button – come say hi!

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