Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Better Start Knitting Faster!

I had my second weigh-in yesterday!  I lost 6 pounds this week for a total of 10 overall!  woohoo! yea me!  Very very awesome.

And in that light, I'd better start knitting faster or these gorgeous sweaters I'm making are going to be too big!  And that just won't do, let me tell you.

Fortunately things have been quiet at work this week and tomorrow I have a day off.  I'm going to get my mammogram (boo!), do some shopping (yea!), and have 2 days of PJ days.  SO looking forward to PJ days.

The picture for today is the 2nd of the 3 sweaters I'm knitting for the skinny me.  It's an arrow head lace pattern, sleeveless top with a ribbed waist.  I enjoy the lace pattern as it's pretty, easy to work, and looks fabulous in this yarn. My only regret is that the yarn is discontinued.  It's so pretty and fun to work and feels like heaven.

Monday, March 25, 2013

There's A New Me Coming and I'm Knitting for Her

I mentioned a couple of posts back that David and I started a doctor supervised weight loss program.  So far things are going smashingly.  We both feel great, have motivation to keep going and are seeing significant results already.

And it feels really good.  Yesterday, David created an excel spreadsheet so that we can put our weekly weights in.  On that spreadsheet, he put on milestones that we need to know we passed--like the weight I was at my last successful diet attempt (2006), and the weight I was when I went to the hospital to have babies, and the weight I was when I started college.  Those weights that mean something in the big picture.

And in talking about all of this, and feeling the weight starting to drop off, we realized that we're going to need clothes to get us through the phases.  While we don't need lots of them, we do need them because both of our jobs require us to be in front of people conducting meetings, etc., on a fairly regular basis.  Plus, we're putting so much time and effort into making this happen that we want to be sure to look as good as possible throughout the duration--and it'll be a while, we both have a lot of weight to lose.

Then I got in a new knitting magazine and saw three really cute sweaters that I like and then I looked in the back at the patterns and noticed that they only go up to L or XL and my initial reaction was "too bad" and then I remembered that someday soon I'm going to be a L or XL and that I could wear these sweaters that I want to make, so I rummaged through my stash and found  enough yarn in the right weights for 2 of the sweaters...the 3rd sweater is a total splurge, but that's ok. I bought that yarn (and it's complete luxury) and I have cast on 3 sweaters in the past week and have been knitting industrially on them's kind of like planning for a baby's arrival, only right now I'm planning on the arrival of a skinnier, healthier, more amazing me.

Sweater one's progress is pictured below.  It's a "twist front top" and I have no idea how I'm going to make the long strip of fabric I make twist around into a shirt that can be worn, but I'm going to trust it and go for it.  It's a blue cotton yarn called Solaris by S. Charles that will feel divine next to the skin.  I can't wait to see it finished (and to figure out how to actually put it together...if it works, I can see this being a pattern for using woven fabric as well!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's a Monster Mash!

Before I get to the monster mash, I have to indulge in a little selfish prattling.

Last night I was just about done for.  The stress of the past 6 weeks, the seeming never ending string of bad news, the overwhelming frustration I'm feeling at work, and what came across as a negative meeting with my weight-loss coach drove me to want to just sit and cry.  Not in the healthy "getting over it" kind of way, but in the "I feel sorry for myself" kind of way.

And, as I was laying down to go to sleep, I was thinking that for the 7th day in a row now, I've had a difficult time thinking about my gratitude.  I was feeling sorry for myself and thinking that not one good thing had happened that day (not true) and that darnit I might just have to go to sleep without being grateful.  And then I had the urge to check my e-mail one more time and I got a wonderful message from Aunt Betty, that seriously made my life better.

It reminded me that despite everything, I can manage to reach out and touch people with my craft.  That, in doing so, I can put a grin on their face and make them genuinely happy--and that the only way I can do things like that is if I make myself get happy.

Thank you Betty.  You scooped me up just when I needed it and you didn't even know I needed it just that very moment!

Then, this morning, I opened my e-mail to find pictures galore of the Monster Mash...and oh, how I smiled and grinned and was so happy that I almost knitted my thumb off!  What a return on my time!  That a few yards of string could be turned into such joy is truly alchemy!

You remember the monsters, right?  I never divulged who they were for, and now you know.  Aunt Betty asked me to make them for her friends the Middle Creek 6 and she gave them to them last night at her "Monster Mash."  Each person opened her monster, read the description of it and laughed and giggled.  They all look so proud in the group photo, but the one that struck me the most out of all of the photos is the photo below--the one of the monsters looking a they drank more of the Dos Equis than they should have.  It's adorable and I honestly believe they had as much fun as their namesakes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I completed my first color work project over spring break.  It's a hat made from yarn that I get in a sock yarn club.  This one featured a gorgeous sock pattern that had embroidery or a hat patter than was color work.  While I thought it might be fun to combine my embroidery skills with knitting, I finally decided not to do so because, in the end, I don't think it would look all that good.  I can see the potential for lots of bumps and puckers and, truthfully, even if I could get the embroidery to be smooth, I don't know that it would feel all that comfortable on the feet.

On Ravelry I read about the experiences of other people who had knit the sock and done the embroidery and they all said that the sock was very thick and that it wasn't as stretchy and comfy as usual.  So, while a beautiful sock is indeed a work of art, I would like my socks to also be I decided to knit the hat instead.  Not having done color work before it was a great opportunity to expand my skills and see if I would like it or not.

And I did truly enjoy it.  I became almost obsessed with working on the hat.  Had a difficult time stopping to go places, or even to go to bed.  I was very careful not to let the inside floats be too tight and I thoroughly enjoyed working with both yarns for different reasons.  The silk/merino blend that is the colored yarn is just gorgeous--to the touch, to the sight.  It lends an almost velvety look to the finished project that is very hard to obtain with traditional plied yarns.

The brown, in its own way, is also gorgeous.  Though it's main purpose is to sit back and let the colored yarn be pretty, if you look closely enough you'll see subtle variations in color that make it have depth and character all its own.

So, I proudly show off my first color work hat...which unfortunately was entirely too small for my giant head.  Alyssa was kind enough to model it for me in exchange for me giving it to her...we all have our price!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teeny Tiny Little Baby Steps

I have been struggling with all the emotions and crazy-ness that has been my life lately.  I think I'm even beyond the point of feeling stress any more.  Not quite numb, but I definitely don't feel stressed.  I think what I feel is that somehow things are beyond my control and stressing about it won't do one single little bitty bit of good.

It's freeing actually.  There are things that I CAN control, and focusing on those has allowed me to actually feel good despite all the circumstances around me.

The one thing that has me still stressed, but I felt ease up a bit this morning is Pearl.  Poor kitty is having a hard time overcoming her attack.  I don't know if she was still feeling physical pain from it, or if she's just genuinely frightened (and who can blame her) but she's been very very skittish and not wanting to play much or cuddle.  One of the reasons for her name is that she has such a big purr (thus the pun PUUURRRL), and the amount of purring has been very minimal and it has definitely not been loud and rip-roaring like usual.

And of all the things from this past week, this makes me the saddest.  I know (in my head) that she's a cat and has to do things in her own time.  But I know (in my heart) that she needs comforting and that she has always sought me for that comfort.  So I'm feeling incredibly anxious about helping her heal all the while knowing that she needs space, and for me not to feel anxious.  It's been very very difficult.

But, today, Pearl took some teeny tiny little baby steps towards getting herself back to normal.  She came and sat in my lap and purred for a few minutes.  She still flinched when I reached out to pet her, so I backed off, but she stayed there and purred and looked at me and said, "I'm working on it" in her kitty way.

And David just texted me a picture of her sitting in his lap with her happy face on, and it made me tear up.  She's such a sweet fun kitty and is truly special.  She is friendly to everyone who comes over.  I'm hoping that she can get back to her normal self eventually.

Today's picture is a close up of the scarf I'm weaving.  The pattern is a lace pattern that will look completely different once it's removed from the tension of the loom.  The fibers will relax and get all cozy in a different way and open up pretty holes and create a lovely pattern...that's the plan anyway.  Even if they don't, I think this is quite lovely and can't wait to feel the kitteny softness of this scarf against my neck.  I'm almost hoping for a continued chill so I can give it a wear next week after I've finished it.  (btw, you can click on the photo to see it close-up and get a real appreciation for the pattern).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

End of Break

It's been a long stressful week.  I had to put my favorite kitty to sleep.  I have heard bad news about the health of my in-laws.  Our house renovations aren't going to be as extensive as we'd hoped because our income tax refund was pitiful.

Plus I had to go to two doctor visits.

I started a doctor supervised weight loss plan.

And yet, somehow, I'm ok.  I'm relaxed and not overly depressed about everything.  In fact, I woke up this morning feeling happy and dedicated the day to being positive and looking forward to things rather than dwelling on the negatives.

And at the end of a week off of work, I have managed to finish one sock, start another, work on another, start a sock blanket (doing a square a day), start a shawl, and start two sweaters (in smaller sizes...I'm knitting for my smaller self!).

Plus, I've woven a scarf, started one that I had to remove from the loom (as I mentioned in my last post) and started another.  In fact, today's picture is of the one I started.  It's a gorgeous alpaca and silk blend in blue and grey.  I will weave a "lace" pattern on it.  I think it has much gorgeous potential!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Taking the Bull by the Horns

I've always wondered about that phrase having grown up around cattle.  I always thought it was a rather fool-hearty person who would consider taking a bull by the horns, unless he was a tame creature but even then things could go seriously wrong.  My daddy had bulls who were rather tame and bulls who were rather crazy.  I couldn't imagine going up to one of those giant creatures and taking hold of him by the horns....or anything else for that matter.

That said, I truly do think I may have done just that--taken a bull by the horns.  I have decided once and for all to get my weight off whatever it takes.  David and I decided to do a doctor supervised weight loss plan that will completely realign how we think of food.  The doctor promised we will lose weight quickly and sent us home with lots of packets to make food to eat most of the day and then at night we'll make some sort of meal consisting of lean protein and vegetables.  It's a high protein, low carb diet that, according to the dr, retrains our body how to metabolize food (and I think secretly teaches us that we CAN survive without bread and sweets).

Once upon a time we succeeded fairly well on Atkins, another low-carb approach to eating.  So I know I can live without bread and sweets, but it's always creeped back into my way of eating somehow...Also,  Atkins doesn't have much in the way of portion control nor do any sort of supervision...This time around we considered doing Atkins again, but decided that we needed guidance, accountability and commitment, so...

...we grabbed that proverbial bull by the horns and are going for it.  Please wish us luck, pray for us, or whatever else you do to provide emotional and spiritual support.  It's time for us to take charge and make our lives whole and wonderful!

Today's picture is of a hat I started yesterday.  I'm on spring break and doing whatever I want, so please don't comment on the fact that I've also started 2 pairs of socks since last week :)  Anyway, the cap uses stranded color work.  You use the pattern (on the left) to determine which color you knit with to create a lovely, in this case, connected pattern that goes around the hat.  It feels a tad like cross stitching in that I'm placing stitches in a grid, but of course it's knitting.  So far it's going very well and is beautiful.  I'm having fun with the color work, but we'll see how GOOD I've done after I've taken it off of the needles and can stretch it out.  I've tried to make sure that the floats aren't too short and will cause the hat to pucker, but one never knows!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Calling it Quits

I had a totally different idea for a blog post today and gave it up upon starting to work on the very project that I was going to write about.  I'll hopefully be able to save this post for another time...but today I think it's important to let you know that I quit a project.

I don't do that very often when weaving because once the warp is wound it's pretty much used up...and that's money and yarn that I hate to throw away.  But, in light of the angst I would have expended trying to see the tiny threads that I thought I could warp made me realize that 1) this week is ALL about rest and relaxation and 2) $10 worth of silk yarn isn't worth all the stress I was already feeling...and I'd only "sleighed" about 2" worth of the warp.  I cut it up and threw it away.

I think it's very important to know when to call something quits.  Especially when it comes to crafting.  This is about fun, relaxation, spending time making something and learning about ones self in the process.  It isn't (for me anyway) about persevering to the end regardless of how much trouble the project turns out to be.  I find it interesting how easily I can quit a knitting project...but after all, the yarn is reusable and the only thing that's lost is the time I spent working on it.  And I know that no matter what I learned something during that process, even if it is that I don't like a particular stitch, pattern, etc. (for instance, I recently learned that I don't like the concept of a "free sole" sock even if it means that one can replace that sole 100 times.  I plan to wear my socks to death and make new ones.  Life is too short to do something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the end).

But weaving is a different story.  I don't like the idea of waste.  I hate throwing away yarn and not being able to use it for anything (trust me I've tried to figure out things I can do with a wasted warp).  I HAVE persevered through some projects, but I knew in the end they were worth the trouble.  This project, however, was way more stressful and annoying than I needed at the time, which, in the end, wasn't anything near what I wanted for this week.  Maybe later.

Below is pictured a project I didn't give up on, thank goodness.  The cones of yarn were picked out well over a year before I started working on the project.  It survived in my head through many different projects, patiently waiting for its turn.  And then, once I got started on it we had the tornado that required us to move...and yet, I finally finished it and hemmed it up and gave it to David as planned all that time ago.  And I think they're just about the loveliest towels I've made!

Monday, March 4, 2013


On Saturday, I finished 2 projects.  2!  Can you believe it?  Neither could I.

At this crazy time in my life having ANYthing completed was pretty amazing.  And it felt so darn good that I felt a huge amount of stress just vanish in the ether...just like that.  For no reason other than I completed something.

The first was a set of 5 towels that I made for David.  I'll put a picture of them up in a later post.  They are gorgeous, though, and pulling them out of our kitchen towel basket on Saturday night to dry my hands made me giggle a little.

The second is Courtney's monster, Mad Hatter, though I call her Mathilda the Hun.  MH (for both!) is a rather impish little lady who would NOT sit still waiting to be finished.  She got very upset with me when I stopped at just one arm, and she almost danced a jig when I put both of her legs on.  Her tail is her best feature, she thinks, though personally I think it's her orange wings.  That just somehow made her perfect in every way.  Complete. Whole. Intact.

I hope you love her.  I had to wait a few days to send her to Courtney because I'm going to miss her.  Never has a creation of mine come to life quite the way MH's been magical and fun. (I have to tell you MH is a little scared of traveling alone.  I don't know what else to do about it though!).