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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Crafting on the Go

Since we actually took a family vacation this year… by car… I had to plan my projects accordingly.  I brought a couple drop spindles, which of course were not touched, as well as a few knitting/crochet projects in the hope of making some serious progress during our drives to New York and Boston.  Fortunately, I did not drive.  In theory that meant I would be able to knit.  Unfortunately, I did not drive… which meant I could do little more than sleep.  I have the horrible misfortune of getting car sick when I am not driving.  This was not made better by the fact that my daughter insisted that I ride in the backseat with her.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of traffic we were stuck in on the way up to New York.  But since we are bringing it up, that ridiculous traffic did seem to help my knitting progress incredibly as we were stuck – cars off, not moving – in a tunnel for an hour and a half.  Which meant I could pull out the socks I was working on and complete most of the second sock.  Sure, it was darkish and the people around us were starting to cause concern as they randomly would call out or honk their horns, but this was the only real knitting progress I made on the trip up.

While staying at my sister’s place, I finally admitted to myself that the socks I was knitting were never going to comfortably fit my enormous feet.  They were too snug and I wasn’t knitting them at a tight enough gauge to feel like my toes wouldn’t break through the stitches within the first couple wears.  Luckily, my sister lives in a cold climate and is very knit-worthy… and her feet are about a size smaller than mine.  The socks fit her perfectly and project 1 was completed.

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The next project I brought along would not be what I would consider an awesome travel project.  I could never work on it in the car as I had to count and watch what I was doing the entire time I worked on it.  I also had to bring three gallon-size ziplock bags of fiber fill, which really made my attempt at packing light look like a huge fail.  Plus, it was crochet… which is not my strong suit.  However, I loved this project.  It was my first crochet project that wasn’t flat and it was pretty magically watching it take shape.  With a pattern name like “M. Richard the Whale” and it’s witty pattern description, I was hooked…. literally.  Project 2 was completed and then gifted to a good friend’s baby.

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The final project I brought with me was my Viajante by Martina Behm.  At that point, this project had not been touched in at least 6 months.  I had been worrying that it would never fit properly at the rate I was increasing and so I moved it on to some try-it-on tubing, soaked and blocked it before we left.  I figured I would try it on while we were gone and if I had to rip it all out and start over, at least the relaxing vacation would help ease the frustration.  Luckily, I came to my senses and realized it fit fine considering I was only about a quarter of the way through the 2,000 yards of lace weight yarn I would be using.  I moved it back on the needles and I was delighted to find that I could work on it without looking.  Thus, it was my car knitting for the entire trip to Boston, back to New York and all the way home.  We arrived in Virginia, and I arrived at the end of my first 1,000 yard skein of yarn.  This project was then kicked into high gear and became my serious “travel” project as I never left home without it and literally worked on it every possible second.

 

I may not have brought my typical small and easy projects, except the socks, but I found that the variety and excitement toward the projects is what was best.  None of them were too complicated and all of the knitting was basically stockinette, but there was enough of a difference between the projects to keep me interested and they were simple enough that I could still carry on a conversation or just relax while working on them.  In my mind, they were the perfect items to complete my vacation and set me up for success upon my return home…. And that final success will be shown shortly!

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Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.

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Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.

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Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.

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We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).

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I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.

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For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

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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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Getting Back on Track

Summer seems to have spiraled out of control this year.  Many plans and goals came and went unfulfilled.  Many posts were planned and never written.  This week, I hope to change some of that.  After unexpectedly being laid up on the couch recovering from a (minor-ish) surgery, I think now is the time to catch up on everything and fill in all the blanks.

Some things to look forward to this week:

– Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

– Summer Crafting with M

– Crafting on the Go

– Getting Reacquainted with the Wheel

– Looking ahead to Fall

Look forward to a busier-than-usual week!

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