‘Nother One Down!

Despite my crazy year and the fact that I’ve done a remarkably poor job of posting a monthly update on my 2010 goals, I am still working at them as diligently as I can. I most certainly won’t be wiping out the entire list, but today I completed one of them WAY ahead of schedule. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just finished reading book #100. Now considering that in early July, I was seriously doubting that I’d even accomplish that goal at all, finishing it nearly 2 months before the year is over is really something. Despite the havoc my Chicago injury wrecked on my life, it certainly did help with my reading goal! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Something about reading 3 dozen books in 2 months can change things a bit.

Book #100 was Vienna Prelude, the first book by Bodie Thoene I’ve ever read. It was a decent read, despite a bit of melodrama here and there – decent enough so that I’ll read other titles by her.

Now I’m curious how much more I will get through during the remaining few weeks of this year. It will be nice to not be worried about getting “one last book” done on December 31, for sure!

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

# 1 Daughter showed up this past week, which was both expected and unexpected. I knew she was coming, but she came earlier than planned, which threw me totally off-kilter. Far be it from me to complain, though, as I’ve had a totally wonderful four days. It’s always tough to see her leave, but we made lots of memories while she was here, and I have more than a little bit for which to be grateful. Actually, I think she should get the daughter of the year award based on just this half week!

I doubt I could even begin to list everything we did, but our activities included a spontaneous late night grocery run the night she arrived, in search of some suddenly craved ice cream, and resulting in a cart full of goodies, which later became 3 delicious meals. One night we had my special Veggie Brie Burgers with Portabello Steaks and Avocado Halves. Another night we indulged in her wonderful Pierogies and my addition of Virgin Pina Coladas. The third, we had the little known, but always tasty Sloppy Idas with Onion Rings and Fresh Peach Halves. I left the table totally sated every night, each time thinking it didn’t get much better than that. ๐Ÿ˜€

We took off on an expedition one day, supposedly picking up walnuts that were promised to me on freecycle. However, after the half hour drive to get there, we found only 3 nuts! Driving back down the street, we found another house in the neighborhood with a yard full of them, though, and a knock on the door provided a resident who was only too happy to see his yard cleared of the things. Next project for me is getting the hulls off and into a dye pot. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a beautiful day, and even thought it was the middle of the week, there were three yard sales set up. Having been housebound for nearly the entire yard sale season, this was an exciting development for me, and I did find a couple of treasures, though my daughter is the one who got most of the booty. I’m especially fond of:

  • My bell – Although you can’t tell it from the photo, this thing is as big around as a roll of toilet paper, and the clapper decidedly thicker than a broom handle.ย  It’s got the most amazing bass voice, and it gives me goosebumps to hear it ring! It will need a very special home, and I confess to buying it without putting a lot of thought into that at the time. I just couldn’t walk away once I heard it ring! I’m wondering what it’s original use was…
  • Little Turkish Rug Loom – also nabbed quickly, despite the fact that my last name is not Allen. I’m not sure, but it just might be Bleuette scale, and regardless, it’s a very interesting loom just for studying.ย  I’m starting to realize I might have to confess to a miniature loom collection now, as this is at least my third model scale loom that could actually be used for weaving.

We did some small needful tasks for her – choosing a ringtone for her new cellphone, finding homemaking goodies she had stashed here and needed for her new apartment, and such, and a few for me, like blocking my Sweetheart Lovey at long last,

but the main part of our energies went into some serious decluttering work for me. Since I’ve been able to get around the past few weeks, I’ve been picking at some projects and making good progress within my limits, but my daughter’s visit dramatically accelerated things, and I’m going to be smiling for weeks! There is a lot that needs done around this place that I simply can’t do alone, and it feels oh-so-nice to have some of them so much improved. I’m afraid I’m not posting before and after pix. I rarely have the nerve to share before pix, and as for after shots… what is miraculous to me right now isn’t exactly Better Homes and Gardens yet, so…

We did some major reorganization and fall cleaning in my bathroom, leaving just the parts of the project I can do easily on my own, and we worked long and hard in the “store room,” which is the center of my online sales work, storing merchandise and functioning as my packing center. It had become impassable this year as hubby toted stuff in there, and I couldn’t monitor what was happening. Now it’s functional again, and with effort, I can actually get up and down the stairs about once a day, so I’m looking forward to getting back into business again soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ The shelves are seriously overstocked!

The last place we did some major work was in the back storage room. It’s a long term commitment, as there is the equivalent of an entire fabric store and more back there. It’s functioned as my attic for quite a few years, and it looks like it! I’m paring down my fabric collection dramatically, deleting much of the synthetics and blends, stuff I bought for my little girls now long grown, and yardage bought for a much younger me. My daughter is snagging some great fabrics for herself, I’m pulling out some pieces to list on Etsy, and the rest is going to Christian Aid, delivered by my daughter who lives near their warehouse. Each time she comes, we go through a few more boxes until we get her car filled for the journey home, and I end up feeling that although I’ve given away a lot of dreams and more than a little bit of truly great fabric, it’s going to a place where it will be used in making a real difference. This year, I suddenly got this brilliant idea to repack all of my original yarn stash into plastic tubs while we were back in that room. Funny thing happened, though. I now have 4 big outdoor trash bags of mostly acrylic yarn on my porch, waiting to be delivered to a charity, and only a shelf and a half remaining upstairs, most of which is in afghan quantities for gifting. I just discovered going through it all that I no longer found it appealing to do that much work with acrylic yarns, and emboldened by the clearing out, decided to release it to a new home. Honestly, my biggest guilt about the whole deal is feeling like I should be whipping up Project Linus Blankets and Homeless Hats with it, but I know I just won’t be able to make the time for that right now, so I’m being brave!

The last big event of her visit was my completion of the prayer shawl I’ve been knitting for her while she was in Honduras. Not only was it a joy to finally give it to her, but it also completes one of this year’s annual goals – finishing 3 old UFO’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I love the way it came out, and she really liked it a lot! I think I’m going to miss this project, though, as it was a special bit of love to work on it while praying for her. I felt a bit lost as she pulled out of the driveway with in on the seat of the car beside her.

The pattern I used is the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl, which can be located online for free though Ravelry. Once you get in the swing of this pattern, it’s quick and easy, and most experienced knitters will probably find they memorize the pattern without much trouble. This makes it a great option for a prayer shawl, especially if you like to pray while you knit. You can use pretty much any yarn you would like for this shawl, as it starts at the top and is knit to the desired size with only a 6 row repeat. I wanted to gift hers today, so I didn’t use quite all the yarn I bought, quitting after about 5.5 balls instead of using all 6, about 1177 yards. I used a delicious hand-painted, superwash, worsted weight wool from Beyond Basics, but which is sadly enough discontinued.

Now, I guess it’s time to go back to real life.ย  I’m certainly feeling the void this evening with her gone, but in many ways, she’s still here as I look around and see the fruits of her visit and think of the doors that have opened as a result. She may be gone home, but I’m going to be benefiting from these past four days for years to come!

Airy Autumnal Alpaca Accomplishment

Go ahead and laugh… I finished this project several days ago, but I’d not blogged it yet because I couldn’t think of a title I liked for my post. ๐Ÿ˜‰ One thing I can say for being laid up… I AM getting some things done, and they are things I wouldn’t be completing if I were on my feet instead of my seat. I had a friend say that this has been good for my goals list, and in some ways it has, but on the other hand, I’d just be working on different goals if I were not having to keep my leg up so much. At least I’m getting things done.

So anyway, what project is it that I’ve completed? Three years ago when I first started knitting lace, the second project I started was (as is my normal) a good bit beyond entry level. Instead of following a pattern, I chose to use design elements and go way off on a tangent, not to mention, I chose yarn that was a bit difficult to knit. To put it mildly, I ended up terribly frustrated with the project, and it felt impossible to knit. With all the other things I was doing at the time, predictably enough, it got put on the back burner. One of my goals this year is to finish 3 ancient UFO’s from my knit/crochet heap, and last week, I got a sudden yearning to make this the second of those three. As it fairly flew off my needles in a matter of days, I had to think back and laugh at how sure I was that this had to be one of the toughest things I’d ever tried to do!

The yarn is Suri Dream from Knit Picks. The throw is 48″ x 60″ and weighs less than 350 grams, and it’s like snuggling under a cloud! Still, it’s beautifully warm, and I love tossing it over myself. Someone told me it was a nice little heirloom project, but I love using it so much that I’m not sure it will outlive me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The two patterns I put together in order to make this afghan are from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. For the main panel, I used Mrs. Lambert’s Shetland Lace pattern on page 50, worked over 100 stitches on size 10 needles, 20 repeats. Then I finished it with the edging supplied for the capelet, working three repeats of the pattern into the several spare stitches on the ends.

A very light steaming of the corners is the only blocking I did, as I liked the texture just as it finished – soft and squishy, airy and warm. This worked up extremely quickly, and I’d definitely do it again, even though I’m not a big fan of working with yarn that has this much halo. The end result is so delicious that it’s worth the effort. ๐Ÿ™‚

This Feels GOOD!

I finished this a couple of days ago, and I’m still grinning about it! Actually, the farther I get from having done it, the more I love the project! ๐Ÿ™‚ And to think… it only took me a couple of my “stuck on the sofa” days AND it was one of my goals for 2010! It’s so nice to have it done after it languished for so long in my UFO pile…

Yup! I’m done with my little petit point sampler, and I’m madly in love with it. ๐Ÿ™‚ What you are seeing in this picture is smaller than a credit card – frame and all – and it’s my first finished miniature needlework, not to mention, I framed it myself.ย  Any wonder I’m grinning?

There are a total of 4536 stitches in this project. The rest of the details are in last week’s post from when I started working on it again. If you would like to see the process I used to frame this piece, I wrote a tutorial for it and have it posted on the blog HERE or you can access it through a link on the sidebar.

Oh, and it even got the official “Hitty Seal of Approval.” The girls are all a flutter about wanting to work on Friendship Cabin again now. ๐Ÿ™‚

East is East

So I’m going to serialize this post. Otherwise, it would be so long that no one would sit and read it clear through, and besides, I simply can’t sit at the computer very long at one time… still… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ At 4 weeks, 4 hours, and 22 minutes since impact, I’m still relegated to the sofa for most of the day. Bad thing is looking at and thinking about all the zillions of things I can’t do. Good thing is that whereas all the travel this year had me of the opinion that I’d never make my 100 book reading goal this year, now it looks like a shoo-in with me going through books almost faster than the library can supply them to me – at least one a day most of the time!

Despite the positives of being sofa-bound with just my books and knitting, about two weeks ago as I was finishing a pair of socks (more later on that…), I was feeling seriously sorry for myself. Now the fact is that I have several annual goals I could easily work on even as Princess Couch Potato, but I was chafing at having to “be good,” I’d just finished a goal, and my best friend kept chattering about her latest love affair, which involved her first Fairisle knitting. I haven’t done any stranded knitting since my clock, and I about a dozen Fairisle projects backed up here, complete with yarn. I honestly wasn’t having a very good day (complete with self-pity crying fit), so when I found myself in need of a next project, instead of being oh so good and picking up one of my older UFO’s like I should have done, I caved and went for the East Meets West Satchel, a kit I’d bought from KnitPicks, instead. I will say right now that I’m not only sorry I picked it up to knit that day, I’m sorry I ever saw the pattern in the first place! The joys of buying something like this from an online marketing photo…

Now, I could see from the original photo that there needed to be a bit of a change on the colors used in the main part of the bag. The Fairisle is so muddy that it’s difficult to see that there are roses worked on the bag, and lining them up together when the kit arrived and viewing them in black and white showed why. There was definitely not enough contrast. If I was going to knit Fairisle roses, I wanted them to show! I was able to fix that problem easily, and I spent an enjoyable evening playing with values and getting it right. There were a couple of colors I still didn’t feel good about, but I also realized that working them into the project might make them work right. Besides, the worst of the shades, a neon pink, looked good in the advertising photo, so I figured it probably was safe enough. Satisfied that I’d done well, I packed it away for a rainy day, which turned out to be two weeks ago, right in theย  middle of my pity party.

There are three main sections to this project: handle/gusset, main body, and flap. In addition, there is a mess of knitted on i-cord, and full lining. It is knit with size 1.5 needles with Palette yarn, which is a light fingering weight yarn. Somehow, I saw all this info, but it never quite registered that this is quite frankly a monumental project. Now I know. Or, I sort of know. I’m still trying to get my brain around the fact that I’ve worked on this for at least 10 hours a day for the past two weeks, and it still isn’t finished. And I’m not exactly a novice knitter!

So, now you have a bit of background. Today’s topic is the main body of the bag. It’s a bit unique, to be quite blunt, and I did NOT like the way it was designed to be worked, so I made a sanity change, for which I’m very glad! The front and back of the purse are each 5/9 of a circle. They are knit together as a 10/9 circle of fabric with a steek band between them, then secured and cut apart. Since they are worked entirely in Fairisle, this is a totally logical way to do things, despite some inordinately long carries in some areas. However, I’ve yet to figure out why, but the designer chose to to knit this from the outside in, casting on 478 stitches, which are then to be joined “without twisting.” After one solid row, the hapless knitter is then tossed into two-color work with very long repeats and fine yarn, with rows 478 stitches long. Since early rows of knitting are so much fun (Note my lifted eyebrow.), and working into a the center of a closed circle is just as much, if not more fun, this sounded more than a bit masochistic to me, and I opted instead to take the easy way out. I started in the center. I cast on 38 stitches in waste yarn, knit back and forth a few rows, then joined it into a circle and knit a few more rows before launching into the pattern, which I worked from my now upside-down chart. That worked like a dream, and IF I ever get Alzheimer’s and decide to knit this pattern again, I will definitely approach it in this fashion.

Once I cast off, which took much less time than it would have to cast on 478 stitches counting obsessively, then trying to join without twisting, I secured and steam pressed the steek zone and boldly cut my knitting for the first time ever. (Do I need to include all the self-talk that was needed regarding having faith in the countless thousands of women who have done this successfully over the past umpteen generations?) Then I cut out the waste yarn, threaded a double-strand of yarn through the stitches at the inside edge and drew them up tight, hemmed the steeked edges under, and easily steamed the whole thing flat. I felt like a conquering hero! My colors look good for the most part, though I still wish I’d had several more shades to work with in order to ease a few of the transitions, and the roses pop boldly instead of being mired in a muddy background. I’m definitely happy enough to consider this part a success, now that I’ve made my adjustments.

I do want to add the comment that the camera seems to create more contrast between some colors than I see in person. I’m assuming it has much to do with how it sees the undertones. I have a fantasy of owning a digital camera that sees and manages colors without adding its own bit of creativity to the process.

My color adjustments (Rnds being the chart row numbers, which is the reverse of how I worked it.):

Rnds 1-3: was Bark and Rouge. I used Hazelnut and Raspberry Heather (Rouge is garish neon pink!)

Rnds 4-7: was Bison and Raspberry Heather. I used Brindle Heather and Lipstick. (Dumped Bison from project)

Rnds 8-13: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento

Rnds 14-21: was Doe and Garnet Heather. I used Almond and Garnet Heather.

Rnds 22-28: was Suede and Currant. I used Oyster and Currant.

Rnds 29-36: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento.

Rnds 43-46: was Bison and Garnet Heather. I used Hazelnut and Serrano, though I’ve second guessed the Serrano a good bit. It’s rather brash, and I wish I’d used something a bit more subtle – one of the two darker colors in the ribbon swag, perhaps.

Rnds 47-56: was Semolina and Bark. Did not change this, but I’m still trying to figure out a good purpose for this rather brilliant sunflower under the flap of an otherwise earthy, rose blessed purse.

Rnds: 57-59: was Sweet Potato and Bark. I changed to Orange and Bark. I see absolutely no reason to buy a ball of Sweet Potato yarn for 3 very short rows that are hidden under the flap of the purse, especially when the color isn’t that much different. Orange looks good, and it serves easily for both spots – and cuts down just a bit on the calamity of colors in the project.

Rnds 60-65: was Masala and Bark. I didn’t not change these.

Wow Weekend!

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first fiber retreat, and what a treat it was! It was awesome to be in this small group of people and see so incredibly much talent in one spot, creating some really special projects, displaying at least 7 different skills. I lost track of how many times I had my mouth gaping in amazement in the four days of the retreat.

I signed up for the event last January, thinking it would be the high point of my spring. It would be the perfect way to complete two of the goals on my annual list, so would be well worth the price of admission. Not only have I achieved my two goals, but I went well beyond! Even though it’s now just one part of an incredibly busy spring, I’m more than glad I went.

Target goal number one was to make one pair of socks on my circular sock machine (CSM) this year. With Jenny Deters’ patient assistance, I had my first pair done by the end of the first evening, then I started a second pair solo. By the end of the weekend, with help, advice, and some generous loaning of various tools from Jenny, Kim, David, Lori, and Myra, I made THREE pairs of socks! I couldn’t have done it without them, and I’m going to be grateful for a very long time for all the help they provided! First pair was plain with hemmed top. I used “my ugliest ball of yarn,” which I’d broken out for practicing tubes last year. I figured that since it had been through the machine about 5 times, it was about time to give it a rest. Of course, that means that although my heart is connected to my first pair of CSM socks, and although they are error free (I believe), I also think they are ugly! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I love them anyway! I’m sorely tempted to frame them instead of wear them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Next I did a pair of hemmed tops solo, working from the notes I took as Jenny coached me through my numerous practice heels. She did tell me how to do a picot top edge, then had to teach me how to frog, which, it turns out, was a very valuable lesson. Bad thing about these socks is that I used my favorite yarn, and they turned out too small for me. I could cry! I did make it through the project without having to ask for help beyond my notes, though, so that makes them a triumph. ๐Ÿ™‚

For the last pair I did, I sort of bucked the advice of the experts and insisted on getting my ribber going. It was tough sledding for most of Saturday until Dave discovered an alignment pin that wasn’t properly situated. After that, it just took a few tweaks and I was ribbing confidently! I’m VERY glad I persevered, as I want to make some cotton blend socks, and I know for certain that I’ll need that ribbing to fit my leg correctly. Note that I used my ugliest remaining ball of yarn, and again they fit…

I guess my next goal is going to be to make socks that fit and I like both! ๐Ÿ˜‰ By the way, details about the socks are available on my Ravelry project page.

My second goal for the weekend was to learn how to spin on a spinning wheel. Now technically, based on some very good advice from a fellow Raveler, I was spinning before the retreat, and my first skein of yarn was entirely solo – and definitely not bad for a newbie. Well… at least it exceeded my expectations… Using part of a Louet Northern Lights undyed wool top, I did this – about 164 yards of approximately DK weight yarn:

Then, still at home, I spun the singles for this next skein out of the same top, but didn’t ply it until the retreat, as it was pretty fine and very squirrely, though much more even. I don’t feel like I plied this one as well, but I’m not sure that, if having washed it and all, it would work to go back and try to make it tighter. I do have just a few yards short of 400, and it is 4 ounces of fingering weight yarn, so there’s quite a bit of work here – and enough yarn to make something real!

On Saturday night after battling my ribber all day long, I decided it was time to spin. I don’t know why, but I pulled out a batt that I honestly did not like. I thought it looked like a wad of hair out of my hairbrush. Several people had encouraged me to try spinning it anyway, promising I’d like the finished product. Whereas I can’t believe it will be my all-time favorite yarn, I have to admit that by the time I was finished with it, I had project ideas floating around in my brain. What I’m most proud of on this skein is that I finally managed to spin fairly fat, and I also was able to do a reasonable job of relaxing my craving for perfection, keep the silk noils actually IN the yarn, and produce a creditable novelty yarn. :o) This batt came to me as a freebie with the lazy kate i bought from CJ Koho on Etsy, and it consisted of nylon glitz, mohair, Border Leicester, and the silk. It’s nice and squishy, and weighs in as a bulky yarn.

A smaller goal I have had for several years was to have someone show me in person how to use my hand cards. Jenny stepped in again, giving me a short, but definitely sufficient lesson on Sunday morning, and I produced two rolags – enough to feel I have a firm grasp on the basics. This may well help me toward my goal of fleece to finished project for this year, and if it doesn’t, Maria’s demo and tips on how to use a drum carder will! I found that I love this stage of spinning – moving the clean fiber into an organized form, ready to spin. But then, I’m beginning to think that every stage has its own little bit of magic! This was just the only thing I’d not done at all, so it was especially fascinating to me. I’ve had a tough time since I’ve been home, as I’ve really been wanting to card wool instead of working on catching up my to do list and knitting for my upcoming trip.

In addition to all the things I went hoping to accomplish, there was a last minute bonus. Jenny offered to teach a class on felting hats – and that’s wet felting, not needle felting or fulling. (If you are beginning to think she is extremely versatile and talented, you are right!) Since I’d never tried this art before and had no idea where to even start, I jumped at the opportunity. ๐Ÿ™‚ We started with a stack of alpaca batts, and we ended up with real hats, just needing trim! Me being me, I didn’t do just a plain hat. I decided I wanted to add some color to mine, as plain, dark gray just isn’t good on me. A couple minutes of thought reminded me that I’d picked up some green angora from the sale table and brought some white BFL fleece with me in my spinning tub. Adding some pink wool locks Jenny brought for the class provided me with just what I needed to dress up my batts.

Lots of soap, water, and elbow grease – enough that my pedometer registered over 2000 aerobic steps on Friday afternoon without me moving more than a foot in any direction – produced hats. Felting isn’t for wimps, but what a cool payback for all that work!

This one is mine – dry and ready to trim. Even though I saw it with my own eyes, I still find it hard to believe that I turned a pile of alpaca fiber into this! More fiber magic!

I have some ideas about how I want to trim it, but I will need more time than I have available right now, and since I don’t think I’ll have a good excuse to wear an alpaca hat in the next few months, it can wait. ๐Ÿ˜‰ One thing I’m definitely going to do is to tighten up the edge of the brim and a few other spots that didn’t felt solid, using a felting needle. For some reason, we all seemed to have problems with the layers not bonding well. I have a neat idea for a band. This is definitely a “stay tuned” sort of project!

So you can see that I definitely had a productive and fiber intense weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I did nothing else the entire month, I’d have plenty to satisfy me just in this four days, I think. However, I believe I can pretty much guarantee you that isn’t going to happen!

Goals Post – March/April 2010

I still don’t have time to do the post I wanted to do regarding Honduras, but noting that it’s the end of April already, and I’ve not posted anything this week, I thought I’d take a few minutes and do a goals post – this time covering two months, since I couldn’t post at the end of March. Actually, all things considered, I’m doing amazingly well! Of course, if all things did NOT have to be considered, I suppose I’d be doing even better, but I’m not about to give up that month of service in Honduras just to make it easier to reach my annual goals. The virus I might be willing to trade in, but not that trip. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Through March and April, I again did not touch my miniature goals, haven’t started a weaving project, worked on a single bit of the remodeling, or touched several other things on the list. I have to not look at those – and remember that I DO have another two thirds of a year to go. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What I HAVE done though is not shabby! Although she’s not finished, I did spend enough time to make good progress on my spinning wheel. Although I have a long way to go to feel competent, I’ve also spun creditably on a spinning wheel – but more on that later. Technically, though, that would mean that I can consider one item finished – Learn to spin on a spinning wheel. ๐Ÿ™‚

Although Honduras was brutal on my knitting in general, the one true project I took along got finished, and it qualifies for one of my goals. I’m knitting two pairs of socks minimum for myself this year, one toe up and the other top down. My toe ups are finished – twins (only a bit smaller) to my daughter’s Rushing Rivulets. Having fewer stitches on the needles made the pattern play differently, so all the things I thought I was so smart to have figured out in that regard ended up having to be re-figured. Add knitting mostly by memory and on those sawed off needles, and they were a much bigger project than I’d expected!

I’ve worked briefly on my photo organization, stashed a very few yarns, kept up with my weekly music and language sessions (these two being a shoo-in while in Honduras, and daily instead of weekly!), and also thanks to Honduras, I’ve had a lot of practice with my camera and learned a few new tricks in the process. Just wish I’d taken my manual along, as photo opportunities abounded, and it would have been a great place to play with so many of those mysterious new settings I don’t comprehend. Of course, with some leniency counted for the difficulty of getting written posts online while in Honduras, I managed to keep up with at least weekly blog posts, too. I can recite all four of my Bible verses for the year, and I got a bonus in learning 13 consecutive verses in John in Spanish while I was away, too, for a total of 17 this year. I’ve been lazy about Bible memory for so long that that accomplishment feels very good!

I’m a little behind on my book reading – just 30, when I need to have 33 or so by now, but I have to say that I’m glad to have even that many, and it’s not that much to catch up, especially if the back half of the year tames down a wee bit. (Hah!) Another behind project is the “debt free” goal. I was doing so well paring down that credit card bill, but these past two months have been somewhat brutal on it, starting with buying plane tix and having to shut down my stores for a while, not to mention not being able to teach this spring because of being gone, and going downhill from there. It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort to catch up, but pattern sales have been a steady trickle of income, for which I’m extremely grateful! The other area where I’d made such great progress early in the year was my email. Needless to say, that suffered a debilitating setback when I wasn’t able to tend it for a month. I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before I can catch that back up! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The good news on the continuing battle front list, I decided to save for last. Apparently I worked off more calories than I ate in Honduras, despite my tortilla addiction, and I not only held steady on my weight, but I’ve lost 3 more pounds! I’m ecstatic over that!

And… my “go someplace new” goal is going to be met in high fashion. We ARE going to go to Alaska this year – YIPPEE!!!

So, that’s it for two whole months – lots of baby steps forward, a few slips back, and a couple of completed or partially completed annual goals. Add to that the fact that in the past month I also fulfilled 3 Life List goals – going on a short term mission trip, milking a cow, and spinning on a spinning wheel –ย  and I think that, exhausted or not, I have good reason to smile!

Goals Post – January 2010 Recap

So, January 2010 is now history! What a busy month it was, and February looks as if it will be a wild ride, too! I feel like I had a good month of progress toward my goals, and I’ve even done a fairly good job of not feeling impatient that I couldn’t get to everything all at once. ๐Ÿ˜‰

January didn’t see progress on my miniature related goals or any of the remodeling work. I’m a little disappointed about the latter, as winter is flying away at a rapid pace, and there was a lot I wanted to do in terms of painting. The majority of my other goals saw some sort of progress, though, even if it was only baby steps. Enough baby steps will eventually lead to accomplishments, of course!

The most massive project I undertook during January was to get Concerto ready to publish. I just discovered I have one more fix to make tomorrow morning, which is agonizing due to what it is. However, the worst of the work is finished, and tomorrow I’m intending to celebrate! That will be one of my four patterns published this year. I’ve put in a good bit of time on the one I hope to publish during the Ravelympics, and I’ve been knitting whenever I can on my next lace shawl design, so it’s easy to feel positive about this particular goal!

My smaller areas of progress are fairly numerous. I’ve spent several hours sanding my spinning wheel, remembering why she was so easy to set aside more than a year ago. ;o) I finished my BSJ for my first UFO, and I’ve been working on my next one, which I’ve converted it to knitting continental style so I can reach my competency goal for that at the same time. I’m slow – feeling very much as if I’ve just learned to knit – but I AM doing it, and I know that my fingers will eventually learn the new tricks I’m trying to teach them.

Even with my flute wooing me, I’m surprised to find it so difficult to keep up with my music goal. Now I understand why it had been so long since I’d played. It feels good, though, even if I am having to strive for this one! The weekly blogging has been much easier! I’m behind where I would like to be on my reading, having logged only 7 books so far. The intense work on Concerto has eaten huge holes in my reading and knitting time, and I miss it!

For the spinning and CSM, I’ve registered for a retreat that will be populated by crankers and spinners – 4 days of immersion! Surely I can make a pair of socks in that length of time, and there will certainly be at least one person there who is eager to encourage a spinning addiction as well. ๐Ÿ˜€ If I’m really on top of things, I’ll take my hand cards with me, and some fleece, and perhaps get help with those, too. That will help with my “fleece to finished” goal.

An exciting thing has been gathering everything I need to try some Navajo style weaving. I believe I have all the supplies for a loom, the minimum of tools, and all my yarn – as of tomorrow. I’ve also designed my project! It will definitely be a “squeeze it in” sort of deal for the next while, as February is already full to the brim. I’d be thrilled if I could have my loom put together by the end of the month, though. I really wanted to weave on a tri-loom this year, too, but I keep running up against walls there. I can’t seem to find one to borrow or rent, and I’m loathe to buy one just to make one or two projects.

The annually recurring part of my list has seen a little bit of progress, too. Debt is down, weight – well… maybe a pound, but I’ve been more aware of things the last week, so hopefully will do better soon. My email account is already about 10,000 messages lighter than at the beginning of January, though even at that rate, it won’t be done by the end of the year. I have my Bible verse very securely memorized: ” I have come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46

And last – and definitely not least – DH is talking rather confidently about us going to Alaska this year – which would most definitely count as “someplace new.”

So, I think I can say that even working around knitting classes and ceilings and all the other stuff of normal life, I’ve had a positive month. I’m exhausted from the Concerto marathon, but still feel very upbeat about everything right now. Bring on February!!!

Two in a Day

I did a really lousy job of blogging my knitting last year, but hope to rectify that this year, perhaps even doing a bit of catch up, if I find myself with time on my hands and out of other stuff to write… Hah! :))

I’ve had a frustrating week in many ways, so I really surprised myself when my knitting time last night produced not one, but TWO finished projects! Admittedly, they aren’t Sharon Miller shawls, but they are still finished objects, useful, pretty… and one of them is a UFO from way back. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was getting really tired of having cold feet in bed, my frustration hitting a high point coping with the recent cold snap and living in a very drafty house. I finally succumbed to the wisdom of the ages and dug out the hot water bottle from the back corner of the bathroom closet. It worked great, but one night snuggled with that nasty rubber bladder was more than enough to convince me that it needed wool wrapped around it. Glack! I remembered a lonely ball of worsted weight, handdyed yarn I’d bought from Robin Dodge at One Sheep Hill for a project that ended up being diverted to another ball of yarn… Perfect! A few minutes searching the Ravelry database provided me with a simple but interesting, free pattern for a very attractive hotwater bottle cozy in worsted weight. Check out the Trebuchet Hotwater Bottle Cozy on the blog, Trampled by Geese – perfect! ๐Ÿ™‚ I grabbed my beloved DPNs, which never seem to get enough these days, and cast on immediately. Even with everything else I’ve been having to deal with, just five days later, I have a finished, snuggly sweater from my bottle. I love it!

The knitting was quick and easy, and my Brittany DPN’s were the absolutely perfect needles to use on this particular yarn. They glided smoothly and didn’t split stitches. I’m far too familiar with comfort food, but I think this is a first time experience for me with a comfort knit. I’m not saying that I don’t use my knitting for stress relief and all, because I do, but this particular project was a totally magical experience, and I’m fighting the urge to just cast on with the remaining yarn and knit in circles until it’s gone, just for the sensual pleasure it provides.

BTW, the irony of this project is that the colorway for the yarn is “Glacier.” Nothing like making a hotwater bottle cozy from Glacier yarn…

So, I finished that project up and still had about two thirds of the last disk on my audiobook to go. Not one to waste valuable knitting time, but not wanting to pick up a complicated project for just a half hour or so of knitting, I cast about for something less involved to do. Ah HAH! In some cleaning this week, I finally found the missing card of buttons for what was supposed to have been my first BSJ. I still had ends to bury and a shoulder seam to sew, in addition to the buttons, but if I didn’t lallygag over theย  normally despised finishing work, I just might be able to get it done before the end of the CD…

YIPPEE!!!!! And the funny thing is that it wasn’t until I was done that I realized I’d accidentally accomplished part of one of my annual goals – the one about finishing 3 pre-July 2009 UFO’s! That sure was painless. ๐Ÿ™‚

The buttons were pricier than I’d have normally bought, but DH was with me picking them out, and even he said they were “the ones.” In fact, he made me stop looking the moment we tried them, saying there wasn’t going to be another button in the world that suited it better. Can’t argue when he says something like that; it was a very rare sort of statement coming from him!

I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the yarn I used, Queensland Collection Bebe Cotsoy, as it fuzzes quite a bit even in the knitting, but it’s definitely soft and lovely to the touch. I’ll be interested to see how it wears, though I shan’t know for quite a while. This is for my grandma hope chest, and seeing as how there aren’t even any grandbabies in the oven yet… ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Good Start

It’s pretty early to feel optimistic on such a big project as annual goals, but I’m feeling very positive at the moment, so thought I’d share the progress from the first ten days of the year. What I’m loving is that I’ve made such great progress, while at the same time feeling as if I’ve gotten some good and desperately needed “mental health” time off. Not sure how that works, but I’m feeling more positive and relaxed than I’ve felt in many months, and I’m loving it!

I’ve enjoyed my music time this past week, focusing on learning the fingering on the flute for the basic 8 note C scale. It’s not difficult to limit the time I spend at it, though, as my arms, fingers, and breathing aren’t used to the new techniques I’m learning. Various instructional and music books are on the way.

I’ve spent a lot of focused time getting back in touch with a shawl that I’ve designed, which is intended to be one of the patterns I publish this year. It’s a large project and a bit picky in the knitting, so it’s going to take some time. However, it’s also really pretty, and I think it’s going to be very special. I’m excited to finally see it growing, and I’m pleased with myself for making more time for my budding business since the first of the year, too. In the coming weeks, I need to sort my time into work knitting and work pattern making, but at least I’ve gotten back into doing something that qualifies as work. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also can hardly wait to be able to reveal this project – worse than keeping Christmas secrets!

A huge project over the past ten days has been putting a substantial amount of energy into my email problem. I started with the inbox of my most active email account, which was sporting over 11,000 emails, nearly 8000 of them unread. This was a jumble of informative treasures, useless “me too” posts from groups, and emails from friends – and a few foes – all built up over the past 5 years. Often when I come home from an extended travel, I find it very difficult to get all my email read, which isn’t surprising, since I frequently struggle to get through even a day’s worth in a day. I’m stubborn, though, so I don’t want to do a whole scale delete of things that may be of value to me. On the other hand, having 11,000 emails in my inbox was depressing! Now I have two functioning computers, however, and I figured out a great way to attack the problem. I set them up side by side with one in old emails and one in new ones, and while one page loads, I read the other, allowing me to fly through my mail at record pace.ย  As of yesterday, I no longer have any unread messages in my inbox – and my total is only 4000 messages! It’s still a lot of stuff to finish filing (still debating on whether I should drive some friends crazy byย  answering emails from 2005), but I’m so thrilled to have sorted and dumped that other 7000-8000, plus the hundreds of emails that have come in new since the start of the year, that I’m positively floating! What a weight off my back already! ๐Ÿ™‚ One big sorrow remains, though. It makes my heart ache to see how many emails I’ve received from friends that were never answered. I’ve found many lively conversations that were abruptly ended because of my busyness, and far too many notes from people who gave up on me ever writing again, and it reminds me how much I lost when my life spun out of control.

So anyway, back to the goals business – and yet another exciting bit of progress. It was due date for my credit card, and with Christmas money plus the income from starting knitting classes again last Monday, I was able to make a substantial payment. I’m SO hoping that I’ve seen the last of having $100 of interest added to my account each month! That interest bit bothers me more than the total due, as it’s money entirely wasted – no value received by me.

And I’ve finished reading two books, more than accomplished my blogging goal, almost learned my memory verse (and found out how rusty I am on such tasks!), and re-purchased the last program I need to get back on track with the pattern writing. If I can keep progressing at anything near this pace, I will certainly have a satisfying year in 2010. If I don’t, I still have a glowing 10 days upon which to reflect. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 1:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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