Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fresh Outlook



The past couple of weeks have been difficult for my family...and very much so for me. A neighbor and friend (like a son to me) was in a terrible biking accident and was badly injured. That fact that this happened while I was happily knitting (and, of course, didn't know about it until I got home very late)...for some reason...made everything squeeze together like a large vise on my heart. (With many answered prayers, this boy is now home from the hospital and starting his recovery). This entire experience gave me a wake up call on how precious life is and how truly, truly lucky I am with the life I have.

When I was a young girl, I thought I'd be a nurse to help people when they were sick. Or maybe a nun to help people have hope when things were difficult. Something along those lines....of helping, hoping and bringing joy.

But, things did not happen that way and I found that my "talents" lay elsewhere....say, mathematics and mothering, for instance. Anyway, I'm doing neither nursing nor mathematics these days and have been wondering what my life purpose could possibly be. At 35, I am feeling a bit like I am having a mid-life crisis...wanting to have another baby, trying to scrounge up a career after being a stay at home mom/part time teacher for so long, and thinking...."What the HELL am I here for????"

When all of this "stuff" happened a week or so ago, it was like someone finally cleared off my dirty windshield and many things began coming into focus. All of my aggravations of dirty dishes/laundry, petty squabbles with hubby, and knitting/designing issues started to melt away. I kept thinking, "What if it were Tim or Ben or Ian in that accident????" and feeling how very precious life is...one minute it's there and the next it could be gone.

This feeling immediately drove me to eat (oh, man!!!) and buy yarn (ughh!!!) and books....like I need to do either...all tend to be impulsive things I do when I'm in dire need of comfort. Now that I'm over that (I hope), I've been making a list of everything I am truly, truly grateful for in my life and that's been bringing me comfort.

My List

My two beautiful, sweet and smart sons whose smiles and laughter bring me the greatest joy (and I'm not exaggerating here.)

My home - which I know I always think could be cleaner, neater and less cluttered, but I have to admit is so cozy and lovely and has the nicest of all bathrooms.

The opportunity that I've had to stay at home with both of my boys grow up -something that not every mom is lucky enough to have, but which I tend to take for granted much more than I think I do.

My health - no matter how much I complain about my annoying allergies and weight issues, I am still in good health and am thankful for it.

My loyal, fun and caring friends who, on a daily basis, make me laugh and inspire me with their vibrant personalities.

Contact lenses (I know...silly) - but these things are miracles and, without them, I would not be able to see with 20/20 vision...or close to it.

Books - the ultimate in joy and comfort - all my life I've been a bookworm (check out Good Reads) and that habit has only grown as I've gotten older. Only recently, I bought Jane Brocket's new book, "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" and...oh, is it a wonderful, wonderful read......I can't wait for the end of the day so I can make a cup of tea and snuggle in bed with this book. I'm trying to read it slowly so I won't finish it in one day. Talk about inspiration and comfort!

My hubby, who has literally been with me through good times and bad...and who, on a daily basis, works hard so that we have all of the things we usually take for granted.

Yarn - the textures, the colors, the final knitted items and spinning magical fibers into supernatural handspun yarns....

and, a few smaller (and only slightly less precious things than above) that pop up in my life...

- A day with energetic breezes that whip your hair from your face and make you close your eyes and inhale deeply with pleasure.

- A close-to-overflowing cup of rich, hot chocolate (no powered mixes!) with whipped cream and dark chocolate syrup.

- Laying snugly on a massage table while having someone rub your aching neck, back and feet....oh, heaven.

So now that my list is somewhat complete (there's always room for more!), I feel like I'm creating a fresh outlook on life and viewing my life with new eyes. It's going a little more slowly than I hoped, but taking time to be "present in the present" is hard for me and will take some time to get used to.

It's my goal to release my expectations on finding my purpose in life (at the moment) and, instead, to live each day (or as much as I can) with a kind heart, a loving smile and caring hands that will gladly and willingly help to make someone else happy and full of joy/comfort.

Because, really, that's all that matters to me.

(oh, and Spicy Green Beans with steamed rice and also angora yarn...whoops, did I write that out loud? LOL)

Monday, August 18, 2008

February/July/August/September Lady Sweater



Hmmmm...have I told you that I started knitting the February Lady Sweater??

This wonderful, fantastic pattern by Pamela Wynne is an adaptation of EZ's February Baby Sweater from her addictive little book, "The Knitting Almanac".

My Manchvegans (esp. Ericka) helped me to pick out the perfect worsted weight yarn (Nashua Handknits' "Julia" by Kristin Nichols) for this project, which a delicious blend of alpaca, mohair and wool...you seriously have to feel it to believe it. Knitting with this yarn is like eating your favorite chocolate...over and over again. drooooool. Blogless Amanda (or aka 1.0) and Jackie picked out the perfect color for me....Blue Salvia/Delphinium...they're so good at that!

I can't say enough how great this pattern is. It's clear, well-written and...oh, did I not mention...it comes in MY BUST SIZE!!!



I've completed the garter stitch yoke (which was a bit tiring on the hands/wrists, but feels soo good) and now I've started the gull lace pattern, which is fun and easy to memorize.

It's a bit crappy that I've got such a big bust because that makes the sweater all that much heavier and looonger to knit, but I think it'll be worth it in the end.



When the garter yoke was done, I took it off of the needles and Ian helped me to put it over my arms and shoulders. And, boy, did it feel incredible! Ian thought it fit perfectly, too. This is the first sweater that I've really knit for myself (that was a sweater especially for the winter, anyway) that Ian has liked.

As you can probably guess from the title of the post, I've been working on this sweater since the end of July and will probably be knitting into the end of time September. But, as I said, I think it'll truly be worth it and I am looking for a long sleeve tshirt in a pale lilac right now to wear underneath it.

Oooh....love this sweater!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday with Clover....and Yarn Basket



I had a rare treat on Saturday. Spending time with fantastic friends, visiting a yarn store and....most important of all....finally meeting Clover in person!!!

After many weeks of deliberation...we finally had a date we could all agree on to meet...Julie, Jackie and I....and, of course, Clover. LOL

Jackie and I drove up to Maine early in the morning and met up with Julie at her house (which is wonderful and very "Noolie-like"). We were greeted at the door by the little one herself...and, let me say, she's even more adorable in person than in her photos, if that's possible. She was a bit scared of us, I think, but was happy to let us sit and watch her play. Every second we were there, I wanted to nibble on those toes and squeeze those cheeks of hers...ooooh, the baby urge was strong!



I had knit Clover a little teddy bear before coming up and was able to give it to her in person...I think she liked it. She chewed on the ear almost immediately ; )



I love the picture of her at the start of the post...it's like she's saying to me, "Yeah, I'm on to you, lady. I'm going to accept this bear, but you're still a very suspicious person...."



This one's very cute of her playing and smiling....

When we had to leave, I was able to sneak a kiss to the top of her head (though she made a funny face...lol). I can just imagine how difficult it is for Julie to leave her when she has to go to work...oh, the strength she must have to leave that cutie ; )

After sadly leaving Clover, we all went to Portsmouth to the grand opening of the Yarn Basket. They're in their new location now...on the corner of Hanover and High Street....almost directly across from the parking garage, which is very convenient.



The place was not quite as big as I'd imagined, but definitely bigger than their old place. It still has that wonderful, friendly feeling and we were greeted right away by the new owner and by our argyle sock teacher, Jay Allen...one of the nicest and best knitting teachers around.

We had a great time shopping for yarn (see my loot below), chatting and soaking up the soothing (but also exciting) yarnish atmosphere. Because it was the grand opening, we were treated to a complimentary cookie (which I have to say was the MOST delicious cookie I've ever eaten...shortbread with royal icing maybe...I was dying for another one after eating mine at home) and a sample container of Soak wash.

Julie got some great yarn to make the Blue Sky Alpacas Fish toy for Clover, Jackie got enough Lopi in a super gray heather to make a DROPS jacket and this is what I got:



(L-R) 2 Skeins of Classic Elite "Lush" for a scarf, 2 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas "Brushed Suri" for two "KeyHole Scarves" (this yarn is soo soft, furry and has bamboo in it!) and a mini crochet hook...not sure what I'll use it for, but maybe to pick up dropped stitches?

We were famished after shopping and ran right over to The Friendly Toast. Although we had to wait for about a half and hour for a table, it was so worth it! I had the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich ever with homefries and a drink called, "The Pinky"....appropriate name, huh?



It was a frappe with a mix of chocolate and vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries. Oh, it was so good!

Jackie and Julie had some very interesting and yummy food, too. We were stuffed when we left. (But that did NOT stop us from visiting the chocolate store next and devouring some yummy chocolate covered strawberries, though!)

The day was so relaxed, so non-stressful, so....well, just wonderful! I think we all deserve a day like that...at least once in a while, don't you?

Friday, August 08, 2008

1/2 FO Friday: Poseidon Sock #1



Last year, I bought this kit from the Tsock Tsarina.

I brought it with me on our trip to the Bahamas, but never knit more than a few rows while I was there.

For a whole year, I had only a short row toe done and a few rows of the foot.

NOW, I have a WHOLE SOCK done!!! Woo-hoo!

I'm writing this up as if I finished the whole pair, but I really have one more sock to go. This is just easier...

DETAILS

Yarn: Jennifer's Flock Sock yarn (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon), colorway Thalassa
Pattern: Poseidon, see link above
Needle: Size US1 (2.25 mm), magic loop on KP Harmony
Time: Well, started on Oct 2007....and only have 1 done. Maybe be done with second sock by Oct 2008.
Fun: I'd say A-/B+ (Reason- I loved the yarn, loved the color of the yarn and the directions were somewhat complex, but made every knitting the sock very interesting and not at all boring. I'm excited that I learned to use the Russian Loop method of outlining shapes in knitwear and I was able to brush up on my short row toe/heel experience, which is low. The only thing I was slightly unhappy with was the lace edging on the cuff of the sock. It knit up wonderfully, but it doesn't lay flat against the sock...even with washing, blocking and steaming...and, dare I say, ironing. Not sure why, but this is the only part that doesn't look awesome.)

Wanna see more pics?

1. Another view of sock-



2. Close up of Dolphins -



3. Sock on Blocker -



You can see here that my sock looks a bit big. And it is. I think my row gauge was off...when I started it, my gauge was fine....but after so many months of not knitting it, I think my gauge became looser (aren't I loose enough already???).

Overall, I'm really happy and it's a great sock. I'd love to get the Flaming Bird (I don't think that's the right name...) sock kit at some point. The Tsock Tsarina is an amazing designer!!

So...what do you think?

Monday, August 04, 2008

WINNERS of Lisha Lace Scarf Contest!!!!!

Oh, I feel like a bum! I'm so sorry that I didn't post the winners on Saturday, like I promised. I thought I would have internet access in RI when I went away, but there was none! Ahhh! So, now that I'm home, I'm FINALLY posting the winners!

I'll try to be brief (with pictures) and will write more later on....but for now.....

Here are the WINNERS!!!



THIRD Place winner of a skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in color 3110 and other goodies goes to...

Anne of Annie Rose Designs!!!



SECOND Place winner of a skein of Malabrigo Silky Merino in color Velvet Grapes 204 and other goodies goes to.....

Deborah of Iron Horse Farm!!!

And, last, but certainly not least....

The FIRST prize winner is Ayana/Sophistaknit!!!

I thought I was going to faint when the random number generator picked her number...you know why??

She had sent me a PM on Ravelry a day or so before the end of the contest and wrote, "Just thought I would let you know that I puchased the Lisha scarf pattern a few moments ago. I look forward to knitting it up on all that yummy cashmere yarn very soon…lol. Talk to you soon! -Ayana"

And, for all of her postive thinking, she DID win the Sereknity 100% Cashmere in the Beach Glass colorway! I'm so happy for her!!



I want to thank all 23 people who bought the Lisha Lace Scarf pattern with all of my heart and, if you like the pattern, I hope you will consider passing on the word about my patterns. Thanks so much and congratulations to all of the winners!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy Yammiversary to Us!

Yesterday was our 15th wedding annniversary.

It was one of the nicest anniversaries we've had...and not at all stressful, which is a HUGE plus.



Ian sent me an amazing BOXof roses...had them sent to the house (which I love) and there were 20 (!!!) roses of all different colors in a pale turquoise glass vase. Gorgeous, gorgeous colors...I think I liked the two shades of pink and orange the best.

After drooling over the flowers, Ian came home from work and told me we were going to Chunky's for dinner and a movie - something we hardly ever get to do together. Batman "The Dark Knight", was really good....much more serious, dark and dramatic than I thought it would be, but still impressive.

Tim was nice enough to babysit Ben and put him to sleep...and we brought him back food and cash. LOL!

Before going to bed, Ian gave me this card:



Which made me laugh so much, I almost peed my pants. We have this thing where we call our anniversary, our "yammiversary" and I thought this "yam card" was so adorable, sweet and funny. I loved this (and what he wrote inside) almost more than out night out.



Next, he gave me two beautifully wrapped, white velvet boxes (with silver paper and gold ribbons) - which opened to reveal two pairs of gold and silver, diamond cut earrings (I love hoops)...one big pair and one tiny pair. They're sooo nice!

To end the night, we had the most awesome sex spent some intimate time together snuggling.

Ian, I love you so much! Thank you for one of the best anniversaries ever!!!