Monday, April 30, 2012

A New Week

A new week beckons, and I'm trying to give it the energy and justice that it deserves, but what I'd like to be doing is replaying yesterday--better than I played it yesterday.

Don't get me wrong, I had a very good weekend, just yesterday wasn't quite what I'd hoped it would/could be.  I had a nearly perfect Saturday.  I wove lots on the banana splits and finished the sleeve to my sweater.  I enjoyed some fun time with David and overall had a very good day.

But yesterday I woke up feeling kind of crummy (thankfully that didn't turn into anything big).  I was just "off" all day...I did finish the banana splits (LOVE them!...wish I could keep them...) and knitted a tiny bit, but mostly what I did was bake.  Some cookies (for the girls) and cupcakes (to try as a quilt bee potential dessert).  And wash clothes.  Can't forget the 100 loads of laundry I did yesterday.

And I think all of that left me wanting just a little more weekend, but Monday beckons, so I have to make the most of it...I'm going to try.  My mantra this week is to do the best with the things I can control and let the rest just slip on by.

Things I hope to accomplish this week:

  • climb the stairs at work a couple of times per day
  • walk every evening (gotta get ready for those alpine hikes)
  • weave daily
  • knit daily

Today's picture is of Pearl playing hide-and-go-seek with me yesterday morning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Idle Hands

Yesterday was a trying day.  I had some issues at work that were quite difficult.  All day long I just wanted to leave and go home and play with my yarn.  It was what was motivating me to keep going...

...and what motivated me to get through the drive home (which I hate if you haven't figured that out by now).

...and what I talked about when I walked in the door.

Until I saw David put some envelopes on the counter and out of my mouth blurted, "You can take those to the PO when I finish doing the bills."

Yep, I had to do the bills last night. I hadn't even thought about it all day long. And I'd skipped doing as much of them as I could last week, so I had a LOT of stuff to go through it being the end of the month and all.

The yarn was calling, those wonderful banana splits I'm working on, and the sweater that NEEDS to get finished because I so desperately want to wear it.  I was even considering starting a new project last night just for kicks.  Or working on the easy blanket so I can start getting myself used to knitting while holding the yarn in my left hand.  It goes SO much faster.

But the bills were my responsibility and I had to get it done, so after eating a responsible dinner of tuna and black beans (which was actually pretty tasty), I got busy on those cursed bills, finished them and sat on the couch and read.

I'd lost my big desire to knit after being denied my ability to just play like I wanted, and I really didn't have the time at that point to weave.

Tonight, though, I won't have idle hands, I swear it.

Today's picture is of the lunch time afghan after I finished the first ball of yarn.  It only took 3.5 months, but I got several "squares" out of it.  I'm working on a lovely blue, purple and green (all royals) right now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Starting Over

I have much experience with starting over.  I feel like I did three actual PhD programs, 2 in Kentucky and 1 in Mississippi.  That "starting over" in Kentucky was probably the most significant starting over of my life.  I sat in a meeting with my committee after having spent the entire summer reading for my comprehensive exam only to hear the dreaded words that I needed to scrap everything I'd done and "start over."  I went home and cried...and felt miserable for a few days.  Then I got angry and determined.

We buried that reading list in the backyard of our little rental house, went out to dinner (probably at Tony Roma's where the girls ate dirt cups), I rewrote my reading list, read it, and aced the comprehensive exams.

And then I decided that I'd done enough on that PhD, we moved to Mississippi, and I started another.  And I finished that program last year.  Some days it still doesn't feel real.

What I have noticed that does feel real is that I was able to finally find time to do stuff I enjoy in the evenings.  I don't have to worry about the fact that I'm avoiding writing or reading something. I don't have to dread the next meeting to see if I was going to be told those awful words: "start over."  Instead, I can enjoy conversation with my husband over dinner (thank you David for putting up with me for all those years of stalls and frustrations and for jump starting me when I needed it), knit while watching mindless tv, and weave to my heart's content.

This is all to say that even though I had to rip out the work I'd done over the weekend on the sleeve, I did start over and now I have it going correctly and it'll all fit and look wonderful in a couple of weeks.

Today's picture is of the shuttle about to weave some towels I made for a friend's mother.  I love the potential energy that a sitting shuttle signifies to me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

And so it begins...

...well, it probably began several years ago, but for me, this weekend marked the beginning of something important...the banana pranks for the quilt be.  I received, in the mail, the wine stopper pictured below.

Didn't I do a nice job of posing this picture?  Wine glass, wine key and even the wine smear on the counter top.  Perfection.

And this weekend, I started on Banana Split.  I love this project.  It almost was destroyed as I didn't realize that the kitten got in there and was napping on the warp chain.  I'm so glad that's all she decided to do because she could have had a hey-day with the warp and try to run all over the house with it...

I also learned a little bit about reading a knitting pattern.  The mistake that I made means that I have to rip out an entire afternoon/evening's worth of knitting.  That's a bummer, but I bet I don't make that mistake again!

Friday, April 20, 2012


When I was a little girl we had chickens at the farm.  They came with the house and didn't like the coop, so roamed all over.  They mostly ended up getting eaten by the coyote who would come for breakfast everyday, but I did enjoy playing with them.  I remember picking up the eggs and even hatching some from time to time.  That was always amazing to me.

I had one particular rooster who was my buddy.  He and I played together and had a great time until the younger rooster came along.  He was jealous and ended up attacking me one day.  I had to get shots, and I didn't like playing with the rooster any more.  We ended up eating that young rooster.  I got the legs and found them to be the most delicious legs I've ever eaten.

I bring up chickens, because I feel like that young rooster right now...I'm running around like "a chicken with its head cut off."  I hope I don't end up in a frying pan...not sure my legs would be all that tasty to be honest.

Things have been nuts, but not in a bad way.  I had the opportunity to travel to one of our satellite campuses earlier this week. But work has been a little nuts lately...and I'm really really ready for the weekend.

I'm hoping that I get as much weaving and knitting done this weekend as I did last.  I finished three projects, which was awesome.  I have about 5 more to go for the quilting bee, so I think I can make it...I'd be happy finishing one project this weekend.

What's most frustrating right now has been that I haven't had the time to do everything I want. I desperately want to sit and knit and weave and just hang out and enjoy the talent that I have for creating things.  But there's no time and energy and that's frustrating.  I'll try to be patient.  Summer is coming and we have 3 day weekends for 8 weeks.  That should give me SOME time to get things accomplished.

Today's picture is of the bobbin winder that I use for weaving.  Each bobbin goes in a "boat shuttle" that get passed back and forth between the warp thread to create the woven cloth.  Winding bobbins is David's favorite part of weaving.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hello Real World...I'm pretty sure I don't like you

So, over the weekend, I discovered that my new-found love of coffee isn't really all that much of a love relationship.  Don't get me wrong, I love just doesn't love me.  Or that's what I'm presuming.  I've removed it from my morning routine as of this morning.  And so far, my tummy isn't complaining.

And I miss it.  I know it's only been one day but I think it helps me be in a better mood...and I need something to help me be in a better mood today because I'm annoyed with the world (apparently!)

But I'm not going to dwell on the negative because this blog really is about focusing on the good things and how being a crafter makes me a happier, better person, so I'm going to talk about the weekend.

...which was absolutely wonderful.

I finished banana pudding, started and finished straight-up banana, AND I started green bananas this morning.  Plus I knitted until my hands were sore on my sweater (picture below).

This weekend, I was in a great mood, enjoyed my time creating, came up with new projects and ideas, and feel in general like I'm about to explode with goodness and happyness in my crafting.  I long for more time in my studio and wish that I could spend my day crafting in one way or another.  I got to looking at my cross stitch and needlepoint projects and thought about how I've been neglecting them.  I'm trying to figure out how to find more time to work on them because I truly do miss them...but short of not sleeping, I can't seem to figure that part out.  I'm feeling very impatient with my desire to make things.

And this is a good thing because I feel like I'm finally coming out of the fog I've been in for the past year or so.  Keep your fingers crossed that it holds.

Today's picture is of the sweater I'm knitting.  I made considerable progress yesterday and hope to have the front finished this week.  Then there are two "butterfly" type sleeves and then sewing the whole thing together. That's the part that concerns me, but I'll deal with it when I get there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Falling in Love

Falling in love is such a giddy, wonderful feeling.  We all look fondly on the days we fell in love with that someone special.  That heady "over the top" feeling doesn't last forever, but it's magic when it happens, and every now and then we get to fall in love all over again...and isn't it amazing when it happens.

If you think about it, we have honeymoon phases with lots of different things, not just the people in our lives.  For instance, when starting a new job, everything is magical and wonderful for a few weeks...then the routine and requirements set in and while we still may like our jobs, we aren't quite as enthusiastic as we once were.

I fell in love with weaving. I don't know how else to describe what happened to me in October 2007 when I took my first weaving class.  In fact, if you're curious, you can read about my experiences in that three day class here.  I described my feelings to David when I got home as having "fallen in love" with weaving.  I couldn't sleep.  Food didn't interest me, it only gave me the energy I needed to sustain weaving.  I devoured books and magazines, played with yarn, thought of nothing but the weaving projects I was going to do.  The thought of all the money I was going to spend setting up a studio wasn't daunting...I just HAD to get it done AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

My first 3-day date with weaving was amazing.  Not once did we fight, or argue, or even think about anything but each other.  In fact, it was like we were meant for each other.  I didn't struggle to understand the mechanics of the loom, the process of dressing the loom, and throwing the shuttle for the first time felt like something I'd done all my life. I was made to weave.  I don't know how else to think about it.  Even to this day I can look at a pattern or fabric and just know how it was constructed (and know whether I'd have the time or interest in doing that myself).

It was truly magic, but then I had to go home...and I missed weaving like you wouldn't believe.  I ordered my loom within days of getting home and then had to wait while the folks in New Hampshire put together all the little bits and pieces of my new loom.

And I waited...

And waited...

For what felt like forever but was really only 2 months.  I e-mailed my weaving instructor each day for fear that when my loom got home I wouldn't know what to do with it.  Would it remember me?  Would I be able to warp it the first time?  I read several books, over and over, to keep myself "up" on what weaving was and how one goes about doing it.  I dreamed of weaving, I played with my yarn, I planned out many many projects.

And still the loom wasn't here.

Sandra suggested I get a peg loom--well I already had one, so I pulled it out and started making scraps and bits of things, but it wasn't the same.  I was limited by the size of the loom, the size of the pegs and the yarn that I had didn't get along well with the loom...

So I waited some more.  Finally the loom arrived in what was probably the most anxiety-filled day of my life--major delays with the delivery truck, so that it didn't get to my house until sometime after 10pm.

David and I spent two days lovingly putting together my first loom.  I was so happy to bring it home and spend the rest of my life with it, that I haven't looked back.

Lately things have been difficult between me and my loom.  We haven't fallen out of love, but we have taken a little bit of a break from each other.  The past year has been very difficult for me emotionally.  I was struggling with work, my grandmother passed away, I wrote my dissertation, my dad's cancer came back, AND I had emergency surgery.  All of this ended up in a 2011 with very little weaving.  The loom and I have some work to do to get reacquainted to the level we once were, and we have new definitions of my availability...but we're working it out.

Today's picture is of the very first thing I wove at home.  It was intended to be a scarf and is made from this yarn I fell in love with at the shop where I took my class.  But I made a terrible error in creating it and all it does is sit there and look lovely but way way way too short to do justice as a scarf.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


We're full of distractions lately.  And when I want to craft, even the "required" distractions are very annoying.  All I want to do is knit or weave and I have 100 other things to do.  Yesterday I spent the entire day talking about how I was going to go home and work on my weaving only to come to the realization on the way home that I had to go home and do the bills.

That took a while. 

The other distraction last night was that my dinner wasn't completely thawed so it was a great disappointment.  I just had a potato...which I ate while paying the bills. I do not LOVE this life of bachelorette-hood.

Then there was the need to drive to the PO and the bank to take care of all the money that had to go out and switch accounts.  I realized that while I'm out I should go ahead and get some groceries so I did that. 

All of this to say that last night was distracted beyond my desires and I got very little knitting done.  No weaving.  And that was disappointing.

Tonight my daughters are trying to distract me with the promise of interesting food and conversation.  I have a sneaking suspicion that they also want to distract themselves from having to do their homework...but I'm going to be strong tonight and end the distractions early enough to get some weaving done. I must make progress or my "yellow" elephant will not be all I'm hoping it will be.

Today's picture is of my main distraction when I'm weaving.  Pearl, who is scared of loud noises, sits peacefully beside my loom while I'm banging away, purring and totally enjoying herself.  Here she is playing inside the paper that has dropped off of the warp beam as I've been weaving.  Too adorable that kitty!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Getting Started

I used to teach writing.  One of the most difficult things that students encounter is writing that first sentence.  So much hinges on getting it "just right" that it becomes an insurmountable task to many people.  My approach to writing has, and always will be, that it's not set in stone.  You can revise, reorganize and delete sentences and words so just get started.  When students realized that they did have options and that they weren't wasting time just getting started, the often did and found they experience as freeing as I do.

I love the whole experience of getting started on something.  Anything really, but especially crafting projects.  So much goes into the starting process--all of the potential and excitement.  None of the journey and frustration.  It's hopeful to consider how things will turn out, to think about the person you're going to give it to, and to imagine all of its possibilities.  Often when I'm getting started on something I'll get distracted by something else I want to start...and in the process end up forgetting what I was originally setting out.  I get back to my starting point and move on, but sometimes my digression into unknown possibilities can take a little bit of time.

There's one craft where starting gives me a little anxiety...knitting.  It seems like I always start things over more than once. Casting on the exact number of stitches, making sure they aren't too tight or loose, etc., requires some thought and concentration for me.  Also, with no or few rows, knitting is awkward and it takes some patience to get through the first inch or so before it starts to feel comfortable.  I had to start this sweater front that I'm working on three times before I finally got moving.  Now, it's easy-peasy and requires almost no concentration.  I knitted a little over an inch last night during crafting night--while talking AND drinking wine.  But those first three rows were important and after ripping them out twice, I decided yesterday to get cast on and set up BEFORE anyone showed up.  What a great idea.  My starting wasn't anxious, I was able to count and recount, and everything worked out great.

Maybe I'm learning how to "just get started" in knitting after all.

Today's picture is of the first hat I completed in regular knitting.  It's the very beginning of it, so it's the beginning of a beginning knitter.  I love this hat even though it's too big for my head :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Looking Back

I like to look back every now and again...see the progress I've made, see what's still the same about me.  Because I have kept a blog since 2006, I can say "what was I doing 5 years ago today" and actually look back and find an interesting approximation of what I was doing 5 years ago.

Believe it or not, Easter fell on the same weekend of April in 2007. I have a gorgeous picture of the girls dated 4.8.12  On this date (which was also a Monday) in 2007, I started a column titled "When I was a Little Girl."  You can link to the entry here if you're interested in reading about how difficult it was (and still is!) for me to get up in the morning.

I was doing a lot of thinking this weekend while I was knitting and weaving about how I'm always busy with my hands.  I don't sit and do nothing like some people; in fact, I can't imagine sitting and doing nothing.  How awful and miserable would that be!  And, ironically, I was thinking about when I started this habit of crafting and working with my hands (I think this thought process was partially prompted by Elizabeth's friend coming over who thought I was amazing working at my loom and looking at the other art-work in my house).  Crafting for me is simply a way of being. 

My earliest memories of crafting involve learning to needlepoint.  I made this little canvas with mushrooms on it.  Even then I could see that my execution wasn't all that great, but I believe my cousin Mary Kay made a little pillow out of it.  I also did this "string art" which was very cool and fun, but I ran out of new kits at Wal Mart and eventually quit doing that. I loved the little potholder looms and remember being estatic when my mother bought me a giant bag of the elastic bands. I had several little velvet posters that I colored, but I was never very good at coloring.  Put a needle in my hand, however, and I could create.

I learned to cross stitch in 6th grade and never really looked back after that.  I still have a very early cross stitch I did in four pieces.  It has butterflies on a rainbow and when arranged it creates a circle.  I have never framed it or made anything of it.  I really should one day.

I have so many projects lined up to do,  in needlearts, knitting and weaving.  I could sit and create every day of my life from now on and not run out of things to do.  That's a very comforting feeling.

Today's picture is of potential.  Weaving is such an active craft.  It's definitely not sedentary.  It's one of the reasons I have such difficulty taking pictures of myself weaving...I'm always a blur, or at least the important parts are.  This is my shuttle with the wound warp underneath.  And if you look closely a kitty body too.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Yesterday I revelled:

  • In being off of work 
  • In weaving
  • In loving my kitty cats
  • In knitting my new sweater
  • In starting my new book.
I do love the perks of working in an academic institution.  I still have to learn to let things move at the pace they're intended and not the pace I know they can (a very very big challenge for me)...but on days like yesterday I almost think I can take deep breaths and move on.

Updates:  The weaving is warped and ready to weave. I know how I'm going to weave this project--I'm continuing with the theme of randomness and really hope I have banana pudding when I'm done.  

I made HUGE progress on my sweater.  The back is close to being finished.  I'll definitely get that done today (unless I find something else to distract me).  I find it odd how sweater knitting is really so much more knitting than a scarf, but it doesn't feel as cumbersome or miserable.  Maybe because there are fewer rows?  At any rate, I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting this sweater and am ready to get going on my next one.

I even thought about how I want to do my next weaving project and already have it all mapped out in my head.  I love it when I get like this because I'm supermotivated to get that project off of the loom so I can start the next one!

I have light like this in my studio today.  It makes everything more beautiful and weaving so much more pleasant.  I can't wait to get started!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Sorry I've been away so long...I did what I promised myself I wouldn't do and that is let work and stress take over a little bit.  I've had a couple of great weekends (parents visit and then visit with our friends in Mobile) and I hope to have a nice relaxing weekend coming up.  Hopefully that'll get me back on track.

In my last post I talked about randomness and how I really like designing and doing things through random numbers.  I also talked about the trip that David and I will be going on in July and how we were using random numbers to choose our trip from among all the ones that we'd like to go on this year. 

Well, the number was chosen.  We drew #3 which was Orange Beach, but earlier in the week we had gone through all our trips and picked the ones that we were no longer interested in going so #3 had been reassigned to #77...which means we are going here!

This picture was taken in 2008 when David and I went to Murren, Switzerland.  We are staying at this hotel again for 5 days and will be staying someplace else for 2 we just haven't decided yet.  Flights have been purchased.  It's very exciting.

Not much in the crafting news.  I'm not working on much in the evenings because in order to get ready to go to the mountains, one needs to be able to walk around for long distances and be in better shape than I am currently, so I'm walking in the evenings (as well as taking the stairs outside my office 3 times a day).  I'll be weaving this weekend, but I have been working on the blue sweater, which is very pretty.  Maybe I'll have a picture of it up soon.

And of course, in the next 86 days until we leave I have to figure out what I'll be doing on the long flight and in downtimes at the hotel.  This will be a major thought process...