Monday, March 31, 2014

Taking Knits (and myself) Outside

All the people who talk about taking good photographs of your crafts say "get them outside in natural sunlight."

I am eternally grateful that I found a lovely house that has windows...lots and lots of windows, that when opened let in a lot of natural light because...

I'm terrifically allergic to outside.  Especially in spring when (around here anyway) everything is yellow--even 10 minutes after all the rain has dried up.  I know it's temporary, but right now my eyes are pretty much weeping all the time. I have drops and they help, but's pretty much not fun most of the time.

I did, however, finish my Sugared Violets Shawl (otherwise known as "Love your Mother Earth Shawl") and wanted to have a modeling session with it, outside, next to the azaleas which are finally blooming, so...that's what I did yesterday.

Isn't it lovely?

Tomorrow, I will show you what I've decided to do with the rest of this gorgeous yarn.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Friday Night and Saturday

I laid low this weekend to get better. So I knitted to mybheart's content, got to bed early, slept late...and I do feel better this Sunday morning. Progress on the shawl was phenomenal...the socks got ripped out and a new pair started. After finishing the shawl I knew I needed to do something else with the yarn that was left other than putting it into a scrap blanket, so I started a hat. Happy days!

I'm hoping for a modeled shot with the shawl since David will be home today!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last night and this morning

Last night, I came home, ate dinner, didn't clean the kitchen, and knitted.  The shawl was calling my name, clambering to be worked on, so that's what I did.  Knitted on the shawl, listened to my book and just chilled until it was time to go to bed.

I'm not sure yet if I'm avoiding the sock, or if the shawl just wants to be knitted that badly.  I haven't thoroughly liked the pattern so far.  In fact, I'm considering just knitting the foot plain so it'll be over more quickly.  That should be a sign that it's not working for me.  We will see.  I THINK what the problem is is that I don't like doing the doubled decrease...the slipping as if to knit-2-together then slipping those 2 stitches over is kind of tight and slow, and I'm not crazy about looks great so I don't want to do a different doubled I'm waivering.  Frog now when I just have a few repeats in or sally forth and finish.  It'll be pretty...but it may also never get finished.

I'll make a decision tomorrow because to be honest, today I'm just not up to it.  I'm tired since it stormed from about midnight on last night.  The rain was particularly bad right at the time for me to leave this morning, so I waited to go for about 30 minutes...and even so the roads were very very wet.  I do hate driving on wet roads.

I also feel like I'm coming down with a cold.  We'll see if it becomes anything, but everyone at work has been sick, so it's probably my turn.

Here is the most beautiful shawl.  I've done the first pattern repeat on the lace edged border.  2 more pattern repeats of it to go, then another little eyelet row followed by 2 rows of garter stitch.  This puppy will be finished tomorrow and then it's blocking time.

I wanted you to see how much of the first ball I have left...not much.  And there are lots and lots of stitches on each row right now, so it won't last much longer.  I'm going to do a double knot join so I can not worry about running out mid-row.  Also, I think attempting to weave in ends on a lace is not going to work out very well.

In case you're enthralled by watching this shawl grow, I will post pics tomorrow and Sunday, so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Sometimes, after finishing a good book or an awesome knitting project, I feel adrift.  Unfocused.  Unable to settle into something.

That's how I felt last night.

I went to the dentist yesterday afternoon for my cleaning (no cavities! yea me!) and then came home, prepped dinner and lunch, and then sat down to work on something.  Only I didn't really want to work on anything.  I had a hard time concentrating and really couldn't figure out what to do.

So, I got up and cleaned the kitchen since it needed to be done and then settled back down for my new book (Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith) and some knitting.

I did manage to get some knitting done, but not a lot.  I encouraged myself with a small goal--one pattern repeat on the sock, get through the eyelet rows on the shawl--so that's what I did.

Then I went to bed where I slept like the dead until 6am this morning.  Maybe I was tired last night?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reading...and knitting

I've always been an avid reader.  I read all the time as a child.  I'd have a book in my book bag and one at home and wouldn't mix them.  I loved having multiple stories and characters going through my head all the time.  When I was in 3rd grade I read all the books in the school library section for "3rd grade and under" so they moved me up to the "older" books.  This is when I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I even majored in English in college because I could read and get "credit" for it.  Then I read probably 5 books at a time, finishing 3 or so per week.  It was intense, especially in grad school, but mostly I loved it.

Then one day when I was trying to get myself motivated to work on my English dissertation (which is different from the one I actually finished) I realized that I didn't have to read any book that I wasn't interested in.  This made me feel free, liberated somehow and I ended up combing through my library and ridding myself of any book that I didn't love.  My to-be-read shelf was combed through carefully and books I wasn't terrifically excited about reading got donated to the library.

After deciding that I didn't want the PhD in English and instead starting over (yes, I started over) on a doctorate in higher education leadership, I promised myself that I would never waste time on books again.  If I didn't like it went.  Even if I was just starting, or over half-way through.  I would not ever read a book again if I wasn't having fun reading it.

Then when I was writing my dissertation, I didn't want to read anything "hard" or that made me think.  I told myself that all I'd read while writing was romance novels, so I did.  And I loved it.

Then something weird happened.  I turned in my last revision on my dissertation, looked at my to-be-read shelf and didn't want to read a single book in there.  I got a few books by my favorite authors on my Kindle and I didn't want to read those.  I tried and tried to find something that would interest me, but I was just simply not interested in reading.

And it's very very weird.  What I am interested in instead is knitting, and I'm not skilled enough to do both at the same time.

But, something else happened to me a little over a year ago.  I decided that I was not going to be able to handle, for one more day, the commute to work.  I was terrifically bored on the drive in (about an hour) and going home was torture.  People kept recommending audio books, but I have a hard time paying attention to people talking and thought it wouldn't work for me.  Desperation brought about desperate measures, though, and I bought Outlander.  A book I knew I loved and since the new installment was going to be released "soon" I thought it would be a good experience to start from book 1 and read through.  I had time (these books are super-long).  So, I invited Claire and Jaime to come on my commute and a world of opportunities opened up for me.

I didn't mind my drive fact, I sort of looked forward to it, especially when the books were getting good.  I've re-listened to books I've read before and had different experiences listening to them.  The narrators really do bring a lot to the books and it makes the experiences different--sometimes better sometimes not.

I still like my romances.  I listen to a lot of them.  But I also am starting to enjoy my books that are "harder" reads.  The ones that will challenge me, make me think, and provide me with opportunities to TALK ABOUT books with people again.

How wonderful.

But, you know what else is awesome?  I can listen to books while I's amazing.  And so much better than watching TV because I don't have to look up or miss anything because I'm not looking up.

I'm so glad that Audible has a wonderful subscription program because if it didn't, I'd probably break the bank in how quickly I'm consuming books this year...but that's ok.  I'm reading again and it's awesome.

The book I finished last night was one that I want to go back and read again.   The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  Go get your copy, read it, be amazed at how the story plays out...the writing, the imagery, the beauty of that book.  And do it quickly because I need to talk with people about this book while it's still on my mind!


Knitting progress:  I finished the Chicken Socks!  I got to the next eyelet row on the shawl (but only worked on it for a quick stint because I needed to finish the socks).  And I started the next pair of socks.  They are "spring" socks that I'm doing a knit-a-long with the Seasonal Sock Syndrome folks.  The yarn for those is Lorna's Laces SoleMate, which I'm not sure I'm sold on.  It has a tenseness to it that I'm not sure I like for socks, but we shall see how it ends up knitting up.  The colors are gorgeous, as are all LL colors.  This one is called Circus, I believe.  I had a hard time reading the label, but David picked it out of all the yarns that I threw on the floor as the one that sang "spring" to him.  The pattern on the new socks is Celebrate Spring by Anne Budd.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How do I work?

I promised to talk about how I work today, and I promised that you'll probably think I'm weird after this post...but if so, oh well.  I am what I am and can hardly change that, now can I?

I want to preface this post by saying, also, that my kids are grown, that I get off of work at 4pm, that my husband is the cook in the family, and that finally, I'm no longer taking classes so my evenings are my evenings and I revel in them because for so long, my evenings belonged to any and everyone else and it just feels nice to sit and do what I want for several hours straight.

(also, and this is a bit sad, but I hurt my foot somehow and haven't been able to exercise in a few weeks.  I'm hoping that it gets better soon, but until it does, I've got that extra 30 minutes at night). here goes.

I get home around 5pm.  At this point we usually eat supper--or very near it.  We're done by 5:30 and I clean up the kitchen after that.  Sometimes, if it's been a long day, I may knit for a bit first, but most of the time I prefer just to get the cleaning up done.

After cleaning up, I'll check Facebook, Ravelry, play some Candy Crush and check my e-mail...and then I'll knit for 30 minutes or until the "top of the hour."  Last night, because I had the whole evening in front of me alone, I listened to my audiobook and set it to turn off after 30 minutes.  This allowed me 30 minutes of knitting time, and then I took a break to do some chore around the house.

I'll pack my lunch, fold/wash clothes, have a shower, or do something else around the house during my break.  This is good to get my other muscles moving and give my hands a break.

Then I'm back to knitting for 30 minutes or until the top of the hour.  On an evening like last night I can get 4 or 5 knitting sessions in.  Last night I got 4, 2 on each project.

Also, I like to have 2 projects going at once.  This keeps my hands from getting over tired using the same size needle or working on the same "tension"...and that's also a good thing.

Update on progress.  The sock is over half way finished with the foot, and the first row of the eyelet pattern has been done on the shawl.  It was at this point in the pattern that I've ever lost count of my stitches or realized that there's an error in stitch count, but something's not quite right with the number of stitches I "should" have the number that I do have...I'm not overly worried as this is a shawl and it won't matter too much until I get to the lace portion at the end of the shawl...the rows are long and take a good while, so in 30 (or so) minutes I may get 4 rows done.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Club Dragonfly and A Week in the Life of Knitting

Two things today!

1.  Club Dragonfly arrived on Saturday.  I don't think it was supposed to get to us before today but we got it on Saturday and it may have been the most beautiful yarn I've ever seen.  I love it.  Plain and simple.  The pattern that came with the yarn is leg warmers, and while it's been cool this winter, I'm not a leg-warmer girl.  Never have been and just don't think I will be unless I move to Canada and then I'll probably wear anything to be warm.  SO...knowing this I decided to seek out something else I could make with 670 yards of gorgeous sport-weight yarn.

At first I thought I would make a camisole or shell sweater, but realized that I'll probably need something like 750 yards of sport-weight yarn to complete one in a size Medium...and to be honest, I don't want to "add" anything to this yarn to spoil its beauty, so off I went in search of a shawl.  I immediately thought of one I downloaded on Ravelry a while back and decided this was the pattern.  I cast on for it before the end of the day on Saturday and there you go.  A shawl in the most gorgeous yarn ever was begun.


2.  This week I'm going to detail my progress each day.  I'll take a picture of my knitting before I go to bed.  I think this will be interesting to show-case how much knitting I can get done of an evening and what captivates and interests me about the projects I'm working on.  What I have below are pics of the two projects I worked on on Saturday and Sunday.  The first is the Chicken Socks.  I cast the purple cuff on Thursday night, knitted down the leg on Friday and then Saturday finished it.

Since the "most beautiful" yarn arrived on Saturday late afternoon, I had to search around for its pattern, which I finally found, and wound the skeins into cakes and ended up with this amount of progress on Saturday evening.

Sunday dawned bright and early for me and I immediately started my rotation of working on the two main projects...the sock and the shawl.  I got this far by bedtime on Sunday.

That's a lot of work on the shawl, btw, and I'm about to be at the interesting part where the eyelet rows start.


  • Socks--basic 56 stitch sock with different colored heels, cuffs and toes.
  • Shawl--Sugared Violets


  • Socks--Blue Moon Fiber Arts Club Yarn--Doodle Doo (the patterns had chickens on them, so I'm doing my own pattern for this one as chickens aren't really my thing).
  • Shawl--Dragonfly Fibers Damsel in March 2014 club color: "Love Your Mother (Earth)"

More on how I work tomorrow...You'll probably think me weird, but's me! :)

Friday, March 21, 2014


Every great now and then something turns out perfectly.  Not too often to make it something to "expect" when it happens the little glow of happiness is genuine and real.

I almost couldn't go to sleep last night for the excitement I felt at finishing my Hermione's Everyday Socks.  I mean, really...look at these socks.

They fit perfectly, they were perfectly knitted, (I think! ha!), they look perfect in their stripy pooling...everything about the sock is perfect.

And that's satisfying and happy and all things good.

The pattern is free on Ravelry and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about making socks or who loves making socks already.  It's very simple, but there's elegance in the simplicity of the stitches.  Just about any yarn would look beautiful in this sock pattern because the patterning won't compete with highly variegated yarn (like the Hermione from Gnome Acres, as seen here), and solid yarns would show off the little purl bumps and accentuate the way they interact with each other.  I think that self-striping yarn would also show off well in this pattern because the purl bumps will add texture and occasional blending of colors without being overwhelming.  I plan to make a pair soon.

Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern is definitely going in my "favorites" binder.

(note:  While the pattern is written for one size only, it would be super-easy to simply add or subtract stitches in multiples of 4 to accommodate your size.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I think we're all in a frenzy of anticipation around here.  Spring is here today and that means sunshine, warmer weather, beautiful flowers, trees budding and all the other happy things that go along with spring.

And this week we've had lovely spring weather (though I made the mistake of looking ahead at the 10 day forecast and next week doesn't look as sweet.  Sad, that).

But, you wanna know what I'm anticipating?

YARN CLUBS!  It's almost time.  I mean, like really, almost time!

  • Dragonfly Fibers should be shipping sometime next week.
  • Vesper always comes out at the end of the month (at least I get something every month with them).
  • Cookie A ships at the beginning of the month...that's 10 days from now
  • and Rockin Sock ships at the end of the sometime next week?  Maybe the week after?
And I'm ready, y'all.  Ready Freddy, to see what my next month's yarn will be, what I can start making (I'm super excited about Cookie A after last month's socks)

So, yeah, I'm anticipating a real spring, not just the date on the calendar, but more than that, I'm hankering for some new yarn...I feel like I'm just "filling time" until the next wave of lovelies come my way.


I'll give you a hint at the bath mat project I'm working on.  This is the smaller mat when it was in progress. I just made a "magic ball" of a bunch of different colors and knitting that together with the natural "Sugar N Cream."  It's a wonderfully absorbent rug and looks super-cute.  Plus it's the perfect size for that tiny space in front of David's shower...and the kitties think it's the BOMB.  We can't keep it straight now matter how hard we try.

You want to know how I made this?  I'm calling it one of my "just knit it" projects: 
1.  I pulled out a length of yarn and cast on until I was out of my "long tail."
2.  I knitted until it looked to be the right size, measured it in the space, knitted some more, then measured, knitted some more (my visual of what was the actual space was much smaller! ha!)
3.  Then when it was just about right, I knitted another couple of inches to accommodate shrinkage, bound off, washed it and started using it.

I'm curious to how it'll stand up to daily use, but I think it'll be just fine.  Oh, and the thing you can't see in this picture is that I just tied the new ends together and left the ends hanging like little bits of fringe.  It's such a nice touch of whimsy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Variety is the spice of life, they say.  I wholeheartedly believed that and lived by that mantra.  In fact, I think it's one of the reasons that I gained so much weight.  In my effort to eat something different every day I went a little crazy and ended up eating lots of something differents every day.

In fact, it was one of the major problems I foresaw with my ability to continue and do well on the diet because the food options were so limited and I "had" to eat the IP food.  I put my game face on, though, and decided to give it a try and see what happened.  If nothing else, maybe I could shed a few pounds before I got too bored with the food.

You know what I found out?  That variety isn't really necessary for satisfaction in eating.  In fact, I found great comfort in routine, in knowing what I was going to eat for lunch, in knowing how I was going to order when I went to a restaurant and in knowing how the food was going to make me feel.

And to be honest, it's the last little bit that has become the most important factor in my relationship with eating and food now.

I discovered, in this "cleansing" as I like to call it, that some foods made me feel bad.  Really bad.  Sick, swollen, miserable.  They gave me migraines, made my feet swell...not to mention what they did to my stomach and digestion.  I never realized which foods were triggering my ill feelings...I just thought I was "sickly."  I had red rashes that would spontaneously erupt on my face, neck arms and legs.  Sometimes I would have terrible eczema.

And now?  I have no eczema, I don't swell...I haven't had a migraine in over a year.  My stomach is mostly happy--and only unhappy when I eat one of the foods that triggers ill digestions.  And it's so cool that I now know what foods those are (dairy, wheat, and grains).

How do I feel about the lack of variety in my diet?  I actually like it.  I like the comfort of knowing that I can have "whatever" for dinner and feel satisfied.  Every now and then I'll want something specific, but there's a huge freedom in eating leftovers and pretty much the same thing every day.  The freedom of knowing that I can maintain my health and my weight and that all I have to do is eat meat and veggies and fruit.  It's amazing!


On a slightly separate note:  The IP products provide lots of variety.  I think that the company has gone a long way to try to encourage different tastes and preferences for foods. They not only have a good variety of options available--Shakes, puddings, bars, soups, chips and other snacks--but the variety of flavors available in them is also very good.  I have to be careful because some of the bars (what I prefer to eat because of the flavor and convenience) have wheat in them and even that tiny bit of wheat sets off a digestive reaction in me that is unpleasant.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What I STARTED over spring break

Yesterday I showed you what I finished over spring break.  Today I want to show you what I started.

A pair of Hermione's Everday Socks in Gnome Acre's Hermione colorway.  The second sock is past the heel turn so will be finished this week.

A new sock yarn blanket that I do not have a picture of.  I'm using the mini skeins I've started collecting and have assigned stitch patterns to the cards in a deck (A-K).  Each new mini skein gets a new stitch.  It will be done in long rows that I attach.  When I get enough to show you what's happening with that one I'll show you.

2 bathmats for David's bathroom--still no pictures of this because it's an experiment.  I'm using 2 strands of dish cloth yarn held doubled and knitting until I get approximately the right size. I'm going to see how these stand up to use, but I'm predicting some knitting rugs around my house in the near future.  The daughters have also requested mats for their new apartment.

A sweater for the skinny me.  This one is in Louisa Harding Albero yarn which is a wonderful combination of viscose and cotton.  It's extremely drapey and soft.  Not my typical color but for $3 a skein I shouldn't complain.  The pattern is Lazio from Berroco.  It's about to hit being in "rotation" with my sock after I finish the bath mat for David (tomorrow maybe?)  I'm anxious to be able to wear a new sweater I'm made in size MEDIUM!  I'm planning to do lots of sweaters for the skinny me

And that's it!  Yea for starting projects, for hopeful times, for wonderful yarn, for a restful I just need to rekindle that restful feeling of being at home and relaxed so that I can make it through the workday...

I did bring up some socks to work on during lunch so hopefully that'll help.  They're neon and will be mis-matchy but oh-so cute.  Can't wait to show you my ideas...hopefully they'll work!

Monday, March 17, 2014

SO, what did you do over spring break?

If you had one?  I love having spring break.  I really truly needed it in more ways than one even if it wasn't perfect like I'd hoped.  I DID get lots of rest and some serious knitting time.  I got sick so couldn't go visit my dad--a stomach virus has no place NEAR a hospice room.  So, we stayed home, felt a little sorry for ourselves while we were feeling awful, and then got some much needed rest.

And while feeling sick and resting I knitted.  A lot.  Here's what I finished:

A pair of turkish bed socks for Elizabeth.

A hat for my friend Stacey.

A pair of Stepping Stones Socks (Knitter's Book of Socks, yarn Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Sock Club yarn September 2013 color Winter Jewel)
AND...a sock yarn blanket!

Tomorrow I'll show you what I started!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My one complaint

I only had one complaint while doing the Ideal Protein Protocol:  I was tired.  As in really tired, and sometimes felt like I couldn't make it through the day.

I went to bed a 9 or so each night...but somehow managed to easily wake up around 6 or 6:30 on weekends without my alarm.  I missed my lazing around and sleeping all morning.  I missed being able to stay up late and go out with friends or hang out and watch a movie with David.  Apparently, though, the sleep I was getting was good sleep because I couldn't go back to sleep and laze around even on a Saturday morning.

I felt weary a lot during the day too.  Especially as I stayed on the diet for a longer period of time.

****and I want to say here that I never cheated while doing IP.  I was "on program" the entire time***

I couldn't exercise even if I wanted to, and in general I just felt foggy and muddled.

David did not have this side effect, and after a good bit of discussion, some data gathering, and thinking, we decided that I was having a bad side effect to being deep in ketosis.  Getting out of dietary ketosis, or even lessening the effect of it, while on IP is rather difficult, so we talked with the diet nurse who told us about the "Alternative Plan" which is what they prescribe people who have health problems or diabetes.

Because I didn't want to jump completely off the diet, I went into the alternative plan very slowly adding one "carb group" for 2 weeks and seeing how I did and then adding another and so on.  I immediately starting having more energy and feeling better and actually started losing a little more quickly for a few weeks.

I doubt that I'm normal in my reaction to ketosis.  I get into ketosis very quickly and will stay deep in ketosis (as measured by the test strips) even after having a good dose of carbs.  I think my particular biochemistry requires me to be very careful when approaching such a low carb diet, and when I need to lose a few pounds in the future, I will need to remember to try to keep myself from going into ketosis for a long period of time.  I think that the worst for me was in October, and at that point, I'd been doing IP for 7 months.

I don't plan to gain so much that I have to stay on the diet for 7 months again.  I weigh myself several times a week and once I get 5 pounds above my middle number I will go on Phase 1 for a couple of weeks and lose the weight.  I'm hoping that by maintaining within 10 pounds I will be able to stay this size until I'm ready to lose the rest--if I do.  I'm really happy with my current size.


I've rambled a good bit today, but I don't want to leave the impression that being tired is a terrible thing.  It was a side effect that I knew was diet related and temporary.  When my body told me that it couldn't take it any longer, I listened, talked with my diet nurse and came up with a plan to address the problem.  It worked and I have been very happy with everything since then.

In fact, I like that I "phased out" of the diet using the Alternative Plan and would recommend it for anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight on this diet or who suspects that they may have food allergies.  By adding only one food group and seeing how I did for a couple of weeks I was able to see if that particular food caused me problems and if it did to look into other foods within that group (i.e. fruits, grains, dairy).  For a while I did ok with dairy, then I realized that it was causing me problems.  I dropped dairy from my diet and am now doing just fine.  I knew wheat would be a problem, but I've tested out other grains so that I can have that food group in my diet and after a couple of months I know what causes me problems and what is safe to eat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aren't you Hungry?

That's the question I got most often while on Phase 1 of the Ideal Protein Protocol.  Aren't you hungry?  My response would be "yes" but it wasn't so simple as all that.

Yes, I was hungry.  We were eating approximately 800 calories per day.  A salad no matter how big is a salad...and doesn't last that long.  Ask anyone who came into my office during the summer 2013 whether I was hungry!  My stomach would let up a loud growl as soon as anyone walked in.

But you know what?  In asking that question, I think everyone missed the important point.  It's this:

Were you hungry BEFORE starting the diet?

Wouldn't it make sense to ask that of someone who was significantly overweight?  Wasn't it obvious that I was hungry before starting the diet?  And wouldn't it be obvious that I was hungry in a way that was completely and totally unhealthy?  I'd even say sick?

Before starting IP, I was hungry pretty much all the time.  I just chose to feed that hunger with whatever foods I liked.  I believe those foods (mostly sweet snacks) were creating a biochemical response in my body that made me more hungry...for more of the foods that were making me hungry.  It created a vicious cycle that I could not break.

While I think that hypoglycemia is an important function of that vicious cycle, I believe that more is going on.  I honestly believe that food allergies and/or sensitivities play a large role in how hungry we feel and in the quality of that hunger.  Is the hunger you're feeling a "raving gotta eat anything as soon as possible" kind of hunger or is it the hunger that says "stomach is empty so eat when you get a chance."  I think that food allergies and sensitivities drive the first kind of hunger where as being hungry is just a symptom of eating the "right" amount of food for your body, activity levels and desired weight management.

And, for me, it was liberating to know the latter kind of hunger.  To know that no matter what I was going to "survive" until the next feeding.  That food was something I used to control my energy levels and ability to get through the day, not something that controlled me by making me kind of crazy.

In transitioning through the phases to "maintenance" (though I still have weight to lose, I'm at a point in my life where hard-core dieting just isn't going to work), I have not felt that crazed hunger in a year, and I'm so happy about that.  I believe the trigger for me is grass-based foods (wheat, oats, etc.) and as long as I make sure the label doesn't include "wheat" or "gluten" or "oats", etc., I'm actually doing very well.  My digestion is good, I feel good and my overall hunger is in the normal range.  I get hungry, but I don't get crazed.  The triggers for David are different, but we know that he has lots of food allergies and the out of control hunger is one of the symptoms of his allergies.

All this to say that I still battle with hypoglycemia and have to remember to eat every two hours.  I've had to put myself on a schedule (which I'm not totally crazy about...those of you who know me know that me and schedules are tricky)...but isn't that something...that I have to REMEMBER to eat every two hours.


I can't tell you how many times I'd tried to lose weight during my adult life.  I did Weight Watchers several times, Atkins, and even tried the Dr. Phil approach.  I'd be successful for a while and then I'd fall off for one reason or another.  I was "starving to death" hungry on all of these programs, though less so on Atkins (which gives credence to my theory of grass-based foods which are so prominent on the WW and Dr. P approaches).

What I think Ideal Protein does right is this:  Significantly lowers carbs, significantly lowers fats, forces healthy food choices by giving a limited option of food items, and provides quality, tasty protein products to replace meals until your body has reset and is ready for working in the real world again.  Learning to live without certain groups of food can be difficult, but for me and my husband, it helped us to learn about the appropriate kind of hunger, start to dissect what kinds of food drive that hunger, and approach our maintenance with an attitude of "I want to feel like this every single day for the rest of my life, so I will choose to eat the foods that make me feel good."

And that is just awesome!

Monday, March 10, 2014

One Year--and 240 pounds ago

This week marks one year since David and I decided to do the Ideal Protein Weight Loss Protocol.  It's been an amazing journey--one that was completely and totally life changing.  Here are our pictures comparing us week 1 and week 52.

We are not the same people.  In more ways than just being 1/2 our original sizes.  I want to spend this week talking about the changes that we've made in our diet, lives and outlook.  So, look forward to that.  Today I want to talk about getting started and making the commitment to be organized.

When we met with the doctor one year ago on Wednesday, I couldn't help but think that we would never be able to stick with this program.  In the questionnaire we filled out before going to meet with her, one of the reasons I'd found diets too difficult to follow in the past had been the restrictive nature of the diets.  I'd always end up hungry, tired, or just bored with the food.  The IP program looked more strict, had less variety in food, and was very low in calorie which would mean that I'd be starving to death all the time.

Because I'd had such a difficult time convincing David to come along with me to do this diet, I was afraid to speak my concerns.  Instead, stepping up and "giving it the old college try" (as we always said at TAMU) was the only real option.

While I can say that I was hungry, I was tired, and I did get bored with the food sometimes...I never gave up.  I never quit trying because this weight loss protocol works.  We feel and look amazing and are so proud of the accomplishment we've made.

And there are many days when it doesn't really feel like an accomplishment because it just made so much sense and once we were organized it wasn't really hard--just structured.  Something, apparently, I needed.


Details on how we were (and are) organized:

Because mornings are always difficult, we make our meals for the following day at night before going to bed.  We make a giant salad with as many vegetables as we could put in it--lettuce, spinach, cole slaw, celery, cucumbers and onions for me.  David adds peppers, radishes and home-made pickles.    Our salad dressing is oil and vinegar and we bought some little "jello shot" cups to put in our salad containers to take to lunch with us.  We put in our shakers, IP foods and an extra snack just in case we get hungry, and 2 large bottles of water and then we are ready.  In the mornings, we just pull out the fridge food and go.

As we've transitioned, we still do the same thing but have added things like fruit, natural protein to lunches, nuts, rice cakes and the like for snacks.  I'm unable to tolerate gluten so haven't tried to add bread or bread products back into my diet.  My one indulgence is Frito Pie.  I'll have that every couple of days, but since I've never been much of a chip snacker, the Fritos don't tempt me outside of the chili days.

We've also found that alternating fish with other proteins for dinner every night has been a very good plan.  Anything that we can freeze, we cook extra servings up and keep our freezer well-stocked for the week-nights where we're too busy or too tired to cook.  These extra servings also become our lunches.

We have found that pre-chopping all of our veggies when we get home from the store results in yucky veggies by the end of the week.  The best way to store them is open in the fridge--i.e. not in a bag or zip loc--if it's a regular veggie.  Leafy greens stay in their bag, then we put that bag in a zip top bag and squeeze all the air out.

We also buy our vegetables and most of our fruit in bulk at Sam's Club.  We eat lots and lots of vegetables and they seem to have the best quality in town.

Another change we've made has been to be organized while we travel.  It's very important for us to be able to travel and stay within our diet plan.  We love travel too much to give it up, but travel has been one of the slip-ups we've had in the past.  We've lost weight, went on a trip, ate anything we wanted and continued that when we got home and gained all the weight back in the end.

Being aware of that tendency and having too much at stake, we've determined to go on small trips, force ourselves to make the right choices and we have succeeded.  In fact, I'm always happy to come home now because I can eat the foods that I know for sure what's in them and get back into my now familiar routine.

While I can say with certainty that IP isn't for everyone, what I can say is that the method of being organized with your food choices and routines can significantly impact your ability to succeed--whether it's a decision to lose a lot of weight, a little weight, or just to be healthier.

Friday, March 7, 2014

High Efficiency Knitting

Ellen commented on Wednesday how I knit so quickly and am cranking things out.  Thanks Ellen.  I never really thought of myself as a "quick knitter..."...

Because I'm really not unless I'm doing straight-forward knitting (either garter stitch or stockinette in the round).  And then I think I'm pretty fast.  I get into a sort of Zen state and just fly.  I think it may be one of the reasons that I don't like making scarves very much.  Even if the pattern is simple, I have to stop, turn, reposition the yarn in my hand, get my needles situated and start the new row until I get to the end of it and then start that whole process over again.

And this brings me to my point of high efficiency knitting, because there are some things about knitting that I'm not very efficient about and others that I am very efficient about, and I wanted to discuss those today.

Not efficient:
  • I "throw" the yarn with my right hand.  I don't even position the yarn so that I can keep my hands on the needles at all times.  I sort of grab it with every stitch.  What I find about knitting this way (besides it's what just feels natural to me) is that I get really good tension.  Anything else is simply too loose.
    • I have attempted to hold my yarn in my left hand, and even decided to have a practice swatch to work on so that I could improve this skill.  It just doesn't work for me.  I've tried holding the yarn in my right hand with the yarn draped over my finger so that I can keep my hands on the needles.  All are awkward and result in uneven or very loose tension.  Perhaps I could improve over time, but why would I?  What I'm doing works for me and I don't see that the benefits of changing the way I hold the yarn will do much--because then I would HAVE to swatch and I hate the thought of swatching.
  • I get bored easily.  I'm kind of in this weird place right now where I don't have something that's pulling on me so I'm knitting just to knit.  Which I find a little boring, but that's ok.  I've had 4 super-wonderful projects in a row and I think I'm mentally tapped right now.  An easy hat, some plain old socks, my mitered square blanket.  All those will pull me out of the boredom and into something else very exciting.
  • I don't let deadlines bother me.  I have learned over the many years of my life to not let stress come into my life unless I can't help it.  Knitting is NOT something to stress over.  Ever. I love making things for people, and apparently they love getting them because they keep asking me, but I cannot and will not let my crafting time become stressful.  Right now I'm feeling like a duck out of water in my professional life, and knitting is the one thing that makes me very happy...I couldn't spoil that by forcing a deadline on myself.  Not gonna happen.
  • I have no idea how long something will take to knit.  Along a similar vein, I am still so new to knitting that I can't figure out how long a project will take, so I usually plunge in with my eyes wide open and my brain wide shut and get to going until I get bogged down.  I'm learning, but it's slow...lots of "experiences" to get through to have enough data to start figuring these things out.
  • If I'm sitting, I'm knitting.  This is in a car (not driving), during lunch, watching TV, hanging out with the family.
  • I try to work smart.  The Dragonfly Cowl taught me important lessons about complicated color-work.  For instance, big charts don't have to be scary.  They are, after all, one stitch at a time.  I have to figure out 1) how many different stitches I can memorize short-term in the pattern (4 seems to be my happy number) and 2) how to mark them off when I'm finished.  Other thoughts...if there are charts...make lots of copies of the charts.  However many pattern repeats you need:  that's how many charts you need.  This way there's no second guessing when you get back to it (sometimes months later).
  • I don't make a lot of mistakes and when I do, I usually just "go with it."  You won't find me unknitting rows of lace because I forgot a yarn over.  I'll correct it as soon a I figure it out and then move on.  Sometimes I put the item aside for a while until I can feel comfortable, but mostly I just deal with the fact that there's a little error in the sock.  The Possibly Maybe socks are absolutely stunning and I'm super proud of them, but they have lots of mistakes.  And I don't even know where or what they are anymore and I'm less than a month from finishing them.
  • I'm willing to dump a project.  If something doesn't make me happy, I'm not going to knit on it.  I have to be happy with my knitting.  Sometimes the project makes me unhappy right now but I know that it's a life circumstance that's making it difficult to work on so I'll put it aside (again, important lesson from the Dragonfly Cowl).  When I pull it out, if it isn't singing to me again, then it gets ripped out. Knitting is so wonderful that way.  Even after the yarn has become something it can be ripped out and become something new someday.  And honestly, life is WAY too short to knit on things that make you stressed or unhappy or frustrated.  Plain. and. simple.
  • I have lots and lots of yarn.  My stash is so big it has its own room.  It shares its room with a loom and all the other paraphernalia needed for weaving (which, unfortunately I haven't done in a long time).  But, when I first started weaving, and knitting, I got so excited about all the things I was going to make that I ended up buying lots and lots and lots of yarn.  I still buy yarn.  I can't seem to help myself.  But...this is wonderful because my creative impulses aren't stymied by not having the yarn I need to cast on and get going on a project--that I may or may not hate in the end.  I learn a lot about yarn in the process--what substitutes well and what doesn't and why not.  I spend a lot of time looking through patterns and trying to make decisions about which one is right for the yarn I have (I LOVE Ravelry for this very reason alone).
Either? Both?
  • I have about 20 projects on the go.  This can be inefficient in that things never seem to get finished...and yet, getting bits of work on something each day (or in spurts, which is how I tend to work) ...things get done.
  • Crafting is my therapy.  Whatever craft I'm into at the's my therapy.  As I'm going through what I think is the beginning of a mid-life crisis, I'm figuring out that my personality doesn't fit well into a bureaucracy.  Working from home, though...that's scary, a-social, and financially difficult (and I've done it before and had problems so it's even scarier).  So, I craft as my therapy to make the rest of my life something I can get through.  (please don't read this as me being unhappy.  I love my life...and I'm generally a happy person, but in large part because I make pretty things.)
I hope some of these thoughts can help you become more efficient--or inefficient--with your knitting. Mostly I hope that you make sure to ENJOY your knitting every single day.  While learning can be difficult and sometimes put us in places where we're can make things for us very happy and wonderful too.  Working in education all my life, seeing the moment when the "lightbulb" goes off is so inspiring and wonderful.

And I do hope that you get to enjoy knitting every day.  Because doing something just for you each and every day is the thing that makes our lives worth living!


My picture for today is of Pearl...sleeping with pure abandon this weekend.  Getting to touch that fluffy tummy even for a minute is truly special!  I hope that I have a good bit of that tummy loving during my spring break coming up!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Something for Sale

I haven't had something for sale in a very long time.  It's a lovely, knitted mohair scarf in foamy green with pink speckles throughout.  There are a few blue specs in there as well.  Gorgeous, light-weight and ruffly.

I've shown it here so you can see how it swirls and ruffles.

The scarf easily wraps around your neck 2-3 times for added warmth, or can be left to drape across the front for a pretty accent that will make you feel feminine and happy all day.

I'm asking $50 + shipping for this scarf.  If you're interested, please send me an e-mail at lesliestbutler @ gmail dot com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I can hardly believe it

...but the Dragonfly Cowl (January yarn club) is finished!  Isn't it gorgeous!?!?

There are so many things I love about this cowl.  The colors are so pretty.  The yarn is sumptuous.  The pattern is complex (I love that now that it's finished).

As I've said earlier, I really enjoy some things about color work.  The finished product is something to behold and makes me very proud.  I love the look, too. It's beautiful and people are impressed with your hard work and concentration.  (let's be honest...part of why we knit it to impress people! :) )

All the love in the world for this cowl, however, will not ever encourage me to do another like it.  It is is beautiful...I'm very proud of the finished result, but I seriously almost quit about 1/2 way through because I was so frustrated with the making of it.

I've been trying to think of why so that I don't make the same mistake of trying a pattern that I'm going to hate before long.  And to be honest, I think it was the interruption of the scales pattern to make the dragon flies...and of course, when the dragon flies were half finished I couldn't just make scales all the way across.  In the end it felt like a Herculean effort to get me through the pattern.

It definitely takes a special person to dive into this kind of colorwork.  I don't think I'm that kind of special.

All that said, I was actually looking at colorwork hats and thinking about whether I wanted to do another.  They are so warm...they look awesome on...

And then I smacked that little bit of insanity back in its place and told myself to CONCENTRATE on the lace hat I was making a mess of right then and there.  I really do fear that hat is about to be frogged to become a plain old vanilla pair of socks...I want the's super cute...but I'm really not enjoying the knitting of it.

But I've completed 20 rows of seed stitch over 162 stitches so that I could have that jaunty little bow over my ear...the question then I think I can put in a life line after the fact and save the bow and just do a plain old hat???  It's something to think about.  (but then, the yarn is so dark...)   Because that's some gorgeous yarn right there and will be so pretty on my head with that cute little bow over my ear!  Maybe I should just plug on with the lace pattern...definitely worth trying out a few more rows, don't you think?

Yarn is from the Rockin' Sock Club September 2013.  I'm not using either pattern as I didn't like knitting the socks and the hat that was the pattern just isn't my thing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Visiting and old friend

I had some quiet time on Saturday and decided to bring out the Dragonfly Cowl again.  I also decided to make a second copy of the chart so that I could just mark through all stitches as I did them.  I found this was much better for me and kept me from getting lost of feeling overly frustrated.  I have one more round of the dragonfly and then it'll just be the scales and then the ribbing.  I should crank this out by the end of the day tomorrow, hopefully.  Isn't it lovely?

I can't wait to block it and see how lovely the colorwork evens out.  It's very exciting seeing this one almost finished.

I finished Skew on Saturday morning!

That was one week start to finish.  Wow.

And to round out the yarn club, I pulled out my Rockin Sock Club yarns and patterns, went through and weeded out the patterns I know I don't want to do and then started a pair of socks that I decided I hated.  It was a twisted rib pattern and after 11 rows of 1x1 ribbing, I decided that I didn't want to do that any longer, so I just decided that was the cuff and started working in stockinette.  Only problem was that the sock was going to be too big, so it all got ripped out.

I had a lot of anxiety finding  just the right pattern to do, and finally settled on the hat that I wanted to make around Christmas time.  I've started the brim...and while it's 1x1 seed stitch, I'm not hating it like I did the ribbing...because I know it'll end soon?  I'm not sure, but the hat is lovely and I can't wait to get a little more work done on it to show you a picture.

And if you're keeping tabs, that's 2 pairs of Cookie A sock patterns completed, one in the club yarn, 1 Vesper socks completed (October 2013 colorway), the dragonfly cowl ALMOST finished and the RSC hat started in yarn from September 2013.

After I get these done?  I'm not really sure.  I think I'd like to whittle down my club yarns from Vesper and RSC, so that may be an idea.  Or maybe I'll pull out some of those WIPs that have been ignored for a while.  If I focus on them like I've focused on these, I'll maybe finish a few things's definitely a thought!