Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More thoughts on short-term goals

Yesterday I fully intended to talk about cross stitch, but got totally side-tracked onto weaving and other components of short term goals.  See, night before last I set a short-term goal that I didn't make and I was disappointed in myself.  The reason I didn't make it is because I didn't read the pattern and ended up using the wrong color in the very center of the part that I was working on...and it had to come out.  There's a reason it was the "wrong" color.  I was frustrated and disappointed that I didn't meet my short term goal night before last.  But I do have to act like a responsible adult every now and then...

Of all the crafts I do, I have been cross stitching the longest.  For a while I put it aside in favor of quilting and because it costs so much money to frame all the beautiful things I made.  But I take great pleasure in cross-stitching.  It's definitely one of those crafts where I don't need short-term goals because I often get so involved that I can't stop and will stay up way too late working until my eyes are blearly and I'm cranky the next morning.

There's one thing that I do not like to do in cross stitching, however, and that's back-stitching.  I find it boring and tedious and you have to do it absolutely correct or you will have to start over.  And I hate starting over. And to be honest I don't like to be bored.  And being bored can lead to mistakes, so back stitching can actually become stressful if you don't watch out!  Sometimes it's difficult to see that you've made a mistake until the entire thing is finished, or near abouts, and that's frustrating.  So, when I'm at the backstitching phase, I definitely set myself some short-term goals.  Like I did last night.

See I'm working on this other secret project (and now you know it's cross stitching) and I had this very intricate backstitching to do, and I told myself that if I could get through that then the rest will be easy-peasy. I honestly think I'll finish this project this weekend. How very exciting.

And it's quite satisfying to achieve a short term goal, especially when it means that I don't have to do "that" any more (or at least until I start the next cross stitch project!).

Today's picture is a peek-a-boo picture of me weaving (viewed from the back of the loom).  I like how you can see me and I'm concentrating, but you can also see the loom and how I'm part of it when I'm weaving. I also love that you can't see the Secret Project that I was working on at the time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Short-term goals

At work I do a lot of work with students in helping them learn how to be succesful in college.  One major part of that is setting goals and finding ways to stick to them.  A college student has to have one big long-term goal--to graduate--but they also must have short term goals (to make an A on the mid-term test) or they'll never achieve that long-term goal.  They must also keep the short term goals in the forefront of their mind because if not, they'll end up very frustrated and not able to see how all the individual pieces of a college curriculum fit into place.

As a crafter, I live the world of goals.  I always have my long-term goal of finishing the project, but I must set short-term goals for myself so that I can see that the long-term goal will come to fruition.  Some of those projects I work on take a long-long-long time.  I'm also a very good short-term goal-setting and I typically stick to them.  (I read Moby Dick in 10 page increments.  It was a monster of a book, a huge undertaking, I didn't like it, but I did finish it and can now talk to people about it if they have also read it.)

I think that was one of the major stressors I had with the secret project.  I had short term goals but I couldn't meet them for reasons of my own and out of my control.  It became very frustrating because my short term goal of "working on it for 30 minutes each day" didn't work.  I simply couldn't compel myself to go into the studio and work on the project.  I guess it came to symbolize all the ways that I did things wrong and I just didn't like it looking me in the face (thus the entry about teenage projects).

Now that I'm done and have a little perspective on it, I can see how I was psyching myself up for not completing it, but at the same time, not completing it meant that I couldn't make progress on any other weaving project.  And I really really enjoy weaving.

I started a new project last night to use up the last of the thread from the secret project.  As I was creating (literally on the warping wheel) I got more and more excited about this project.  That glimmer of love of weaving was coming back.  I have the secret project piled up waiting on its grand send-off and I looked at it and I thought, "That's some really nice work.  It finished well."  And I was proud of it.

And that is the satisfaction of completing a long-term goal, in bits and pieces of short term goals.

Today's picture is of the sleyed "secret project" warp partially threaded.  This is the most time-consuming part of weaving and I took this picture because I decided that I was insane while I was threading this project.  Tonight I'll have a very similar looking warp in my loom but my intentions with that warp are completely different and I don't feel insane at all...very excited as a matter of fact.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Off to college

The secret project is now ready to go to college!  I'll put it in the mail in a few days so that my partner can work her magic on it and make it into something I probably won't recognize because it'll be so fabulous.  It's all very exciting.

I spent a very very busy weekend working on stuff for the quilt bee.  Only three months from now I have to have all this stuff ready for "presentation"...and I got in gear this weekend.  I worked almost exhaustingly on one project on Saturday and made huge progress.  It's not "the" secret project but another secret project.  Then  I worked with Alyssa on the quilt on Sunday.  I'm very proud of the progress she's made.  I think when everyone sees her quilt, they won't believe it's her first quilt.  She's done an amazing job.  I predict that everyone is going to want to open up the drawing because they are ALL going to want it.

Do you have something to say about that Auntie J?

I think it's wonderful how we all get excited about the quilt bee.  Though it's only a weekend's worth of actual time, I think we spend the entire year plotting, planning, and making things for the bee.  It's really wonderful, and I can hardly wait to show up with all my goodies.  I may need to look into whether the Murano has towing capability...

Today's picture is a shot of the back of the warp of the secret project.  You can see the warp thread that I had to grab from the edge to correct the broken thread about an inch and a half away.  It was just one in a long list of troubles this project gave me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Feline Helpers

I have some very serious feline helpers when it comes to crafting.  Cats, of course, love yarn and thread of any kind.  Mine are each partial to different crafts, interestingly what I was doing most of when they were kittens. 

Lochi loves quilting.  She was my little scrap helper (actually taking all the material that I threw away and moving it to my fabric basket since I'd clearly made a mistake). 

Pearl is my weaving helper. She has never had a fear of the loom and lays right up next to it when I'm weaving.  Treadles tromp very close to her and she never flinches (and for a cat who is scared of noises and sudden movements, I find this very surprising).  I often find her curled up in a basket loving some yarn. 

Finally, Zora enjoys "helping" me knit.  Her favorite thing seems to be to either try to catch and rip the needles out or grab the yarn and take off with it.  She is terrified of the loom if I'm actually weaving, but when I'm not, she acts tough and rubs all over it and sits next to it.

I love having my kitties help me with my crafts. I  often pick out little cat hairs from my cross stitching and wish that weren't the case, but it is what it is.   And sometimes, as in the picture above, they'll catch me off guard and show me how beautiful they are and I can't help but snap a picture of them helping me out.  In this case, Pearl is cheering me along to finishing the secret project. (which, btw, I have about an hour left!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Teen-age" Projects

I don't know if anyone else out there experiences this, but I have a project on-going (and yes, it's the super-secret project) that has turned into a teenager.  I don't like it any more. It's surly and it's not cooperating with me at all.  When I work on it I'm having to WORK on it and getting a significant workout in the process.  While I'm not upset about the exercise, I would like this to be easier.  I want to love this project and be happy with it and have it bring me great joy just like I know it'll bring great joy to those who receive it when it's finished.

But, for now, it's a teenager and I'd rather kick it out of my house than keep it around.

And once I am finished with this project (hopefully by this weekend) I'm going to have a graduation ceremony and then drop it in the PO to send to the person who I'm in cahoots with.  I have absolute confidence that she will turn in this surly teenager into a lovely full-grown project who will be a joy to be around.

Until then, I'll deal with its bad attitude and hopefully finish raising it so I can be rid of it for a while!

Today's picture is NOT of the secret project, but is instead of the purple sock (which I've had to put aside for another secret project.  It dawned on me this weekend that the quilt bee is really only 3 months away and this other project which has been neglected because of the teenager simply isn't going to finish itself).  I've started working on the leg and gussett and just love how the cable looks.  Click on the pciture for a close-up look.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sock Club--Purple

I've never done anything quite like a sock club before. I suppose that makes sense since I just learned to knit less than a year ago.  I did do a "block-of-the-month" quilt once, but I bought all the blocks at one time and pieced them in record fashion.  It's still one of my favorite quilts, but not at all the same thing.

So, in a sock club, I get a hank of yarn that is specially dyed FOR the sock club and a pattern for socks every other month.  There is also another pattern that is related, but not socks.  A few other gadgets to make any crafter happy, and some notes from the dyer and pattern designer.  It's fun, interesting, and a challenge.  Since I don't know much about knitting, every new pattern is a challenge right now, so if it's "hard" or if it's not hard, I am still learning something.

Thing #1 about this month's yarn.  It's VERY purple.  Pretty.  Definitely royal.  But VERY purple.  And it's dyed my knitting needles a nice shade of violet.  Which makes me worried about what it's going to do to my feet.

Thing #2 about this month's yarn.  It's spun very tightly and is quite different than other yarns I've worked with.  I like it quite a bit and imagine that the patterning stitches are going to stand out beautifully.

Thing #3 about this month's pattern.  I'm going to adjust it just a touch since I want the socks completely closed in on the back.

Thing #4 about this month's pattern.  I love the buttons that go up the back.  What a neat touch and just the thing I need to remember Grandma by.  I'm going to get buttons from her stash...I'm not even sure they'll all match.

Thing #5 about this month's experience.  From David last night, "How many different ways to you know how to put a sock together now."  Me:  "3.  This is my 3rd pair."

Thing #6:  There is NEVER enough time to get all my knitting done that I want. 

Here is my progress as of a couple of days ago.  Last night I finished the "sole flap" and turned the heel (which is always magic).  I really do love it!  The subtle color undulations are amazing.  Underneath the yarn ball you can see the pattern with what the heel looks like.  The ribbing is quite ingenious to a novice knitter like me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things I love

Valentine's Day is all about the one you love.  Being romantic.  Having a nice dinner.  Getting flowers and chocolate.  Telling the one you love that you love them.

While I'm all about the excuse to have a date and get flowers, I do wonder about having a holiday solely set aside for the purposes of telling someone you love them?  I hope I never forget to do that on a daily basis.

Today's post isn't going to be about David and why I love him.  That, to me, is obvious and so multi-faceted that if I went into it, readership would be annoyed with the gushiness of that entry.  But I can post about things I love, so here you go.  14 things that make me happy just by being there: (not including family, friends, or anything directly related to a human...I couldn't limit it to 14!).

1.  My cats
2.  Flowers
3.  A finished crafting project
4.  Chocolate
5.  Coffee
6.  A nice, quiet, peaceful moment
7.  A hot bath
8.  An inspiring skein of yarn
9.  Photographs
10.  Fresh clean sheets
11.  Finishing a game having competed well (whether I win or not)
12.  Seeing a place for the first time
13.  Quilts
14.  Pens

Monday, February 13, 2012


Seeing that Valentine's Day IS tomorrow and seeing that RED is my favorite color and a bunch of other things that have happened recently I thought I'd post about the color red.

I just love it.  It's so pretty and happy and "pops" wherever it is, no matter who is sitting next to it.  It looks great on women's lips, in their hair, and on their cheeks.  I believe everyone should have one red room in their house (or at minimum a red wall).  And that spending some time with the color red in a crafting project is, well, just about the most perfect way to spend your time ever.

I am often shocked at how few red clothes I have in my closet.  I buy lots of blues and blacks and a few reds.  But sometimes when I'm in the mood I want to wear red for several days in a row, and I can't swing it because I don't have enough.  It's clear that clothing manufacturers should make more red clothes.  Nothing spiffs up a day like a red cami.

Likewise, I shock myself at how few things I've actually woven or knitted in the color red.  I clearly need to work on that.

But the thing that most recently put me on my red kick was missing Grandma.  At the end of the first week of every month I miss her.  I just have a few "black" days on the 7-9 of the month and have been doing so since July.  And the weird thing is that I don't think I'm going to have it until it hits me and I cry on my way to work and I'm sad and then I get myself in my comfortable red place and I start to cheer up.

Because, see, red was Grandma's color.  She was a beautiful natural red head and while I never saw her wear very many red clothes, she did wear a pretty red scarf and sweater a lot of the time when I was growing up.  I also remember her having a red and white checked table cloth.    She was a fan of fashion and flowers and always loved a pretty red rose.  She even smelled like red roses (her lotion, Jergens).

So, I called David last Wednesday and told him I was missing Grandma and he bought me these lovely red roses because he knows they help me miss her a little easier and in the mail that very same day arrived these lovely red shoes (and EVERYone needs a pretty pair of red shoes).  I was going to wear them to our Valentine's dinner on Saturday but the heels are rather high and I haven't quite gotten into the knack of wearing them easily...not to mention it was really cold on Saturday and no dress or skirt was going to make that tolerable.

So, while I still miss Grandma every day and the missing is more acute on the 7-9th, I take comfort in my favorite color that makes me think of her so much and get through.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finished Project!

I finished the socks last night.  I find that when I'm getting close to the end of a project I get myself worked into a frenzy to finish it.  I will stay up late, give my hands cramps, and work really hard to see the end result...and that's what I did last night.  Finished.  And I love it!

I think they're kind of sassy.  I'm learning a lot about the construction of a sock.  It's very fun because there are 4 distinct parts to knitting a sock, so I don't get bored.  But I'm still trying to figure out fit.  While these SHOULD have been small-ish for me, they fit a little big.  My guage is correct according to the pattern suggestions, and I follow directions, so I don't know why they are big.  But I'll make the next pair (and of course there will be a next pair...) a size smaller than I think I need and see what happens.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's all about attitude

...and I'm having issues with my attitude.  I don't want to do the things I "need" to do and don't feel like I should do the things I "want" to do because I'm not making progressing with my requirements.  It's frustrating.  To be arguing with myself about these issues is kind of embarrassing.  I mean, I'm a grown person, and the things I'm avoiding are things that aren't required of me, so why am I making a big deal about it? I just don't know.

And I wish I could figure it out.

Because I really enjoy my time making things but I feel like I'm in the quagmire of "don't want to" and where I want to be is in my happy place of finishing projects and seeing results and being very proud of what I have accomplished.  I love seeing people enjoy the things I make...

...and it's just been so darn hard to finish anything lately.  Even thinking about how the people will enjoy what I have made for them has not motivated me to get off my rump and face my loom and get to work on the project I'm really excited about seeing finished.  It's so daunting.

Today's picture is of the inspiration that I WANT to work on but that is being put on hold until I finish the SECRET PROJECT.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Shoes

There are some things that just by being there make me happy.  Gerber daisies, roses, a laughing child...and new shoes that are just perfect.

These shoes have made my day today...I may never take them off!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Little Bits of Time

I am one of those staunch believers that you need to fill every moment doing something.  Little bits of time add up and if you are busy then you have accomplished something.  It may not be much, but it's something.  That's why I dislike my drive so much.  There are 45 minutes wasted (each way) because I have to spend my time concentrating on the road and other drivers to make sure that I get to work in one piece.

This year, in an effort to work on my stress management, I decided that I needed to fill the minutes in my lunch hour that are not spent eating with knitting.  I like knitting.  I want an afghan one day.  So, knitting for 30 minutes or so each day will get me somewhere.  And since I've developed an obsession with sock knitting, I'll have a lot of odds and ends of sock yarn after I've knitted a I should definitely put that yarn to good use as an afghan.  Above are the completed first square and the work in progress second square.  I have a LOT of this yarn left so will get 5 or 6 squares out of it, probably.  But isn't it lovely.  It reminds me of zinnias and the rich color transitions from the center of the petal outwards. 

In one month of 20-30 minutes of knitting I've begun a square, ripped it out, and begun again with a simpler square and here I have 1.2 squares knitted.  Kind of cool. I think I can probably crank out 2 squares a month at this pace.  It'll be a lot of months adding up to getting an afghan, but I'm young and I have a lot of months of lunches left to knit.