a girl and her boy

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Category Archives: knitting

Knit the Stash 2011: the Sock Yarn

Like any self-respecting knitter, I have a stash to be proud of. It’s full and constantly demanding more storage space and knitting time. I’ve added to it since beginning my most recent phase of knitting in 2005 and it’s currently contained in a plastic tote, two wicker baskets, and a few travel bags. It contains sock yarn, sweater yarn, “I have no idea” yarn, and hand-me-down yarn. Some of it is lovely wool or bamboo, some of it is blended, and some of it is acrylic that I’ve grown out of using. I’m attached to all of it and that’s why the stash is massive.

However, it’s time to make something of the collection, thus the Knit the Stash 2011 challenge. Over the next several Saturdays, I’ll be posting photos of the stash and thoughts on how the yarn will be used. Some of it will be knit up according to the original plan, some of it will be re-purposed and matched to a new and wonderful pattern, and some of it will likely be given away (I love blog giveaways!). I may also give away many of the knitted items.

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all the sock yarn in my collection, less one that's in a knitting bag in my car

 

I wrangled up all the sock yarn. All told, there is wool for 13 pairs of socks, maybe more with leftovers.

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Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

Sock Stash #1 – Jawoll Magic Superwash

I purchased this gorgeous superwash blend at A Yarn Over Marblehead December 2010 when I was shopping with my friend Alison B to get stuff for a cowl and mitts. This is a cute little store that has a good selection of yarn in a range from wool/acrylic blends for the timid beginner to high end designer wool for those heirloom projects. There was a single cubby for the Jawoll Magic Superwash and I was immediately drawn to the skein I adopted. I picked it up off the shelf immediately and carried it around the store for forty minutes before I made a final decision. The colors are perfect for spring and I can’t wait to have it knitted up and on my feet! I need to find the perfect pattern to showcase the colors. I’m thinking a simple rib would work.

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worth a second look - Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

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Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

 

Sock Stash #2 – Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

I’ve had good luck with the Knit Picks sock yarns. I know some knitters don’t like it, and that’s fine, but I have no problems with it so far. It’s priced well and my socks knit up their wool from a few years ago are just fine still. I loved this green color and it will work well for showing off a pattern with texture. I’m thinking a lacy pattern.

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Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

 

Sock Stash #3 – Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

There was a sale and I got this for a good price. Orange has been my color this year. After years of avoiding orange, I’ve been craving it!

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Knit Picks Essential in Lumber Jack Tweed

 

Sock Stash #4 – Knit Picks Essential in Lumberjack Tweed

A basic sock yarn that will show off a nice textured pattern.

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Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

 

Sock Stash #5 – Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

Another basic sock yarn for a textured pattern.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #6 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (blue)

I love this yarn. It has wool and bamboo! How can it get any better? The colors are soft and calming. I’m thinking a simple rib stitch pattern for this.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #7 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (brown)

This is the same as the other Plymouth yarn. Brown is such a nice color for socks, especially in the fall with a wheat colored sweater and a bright scarf.

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Austermann Step

 

Sock Stash #8 – Austermann Step

I love this yarn! I’ve bought a few skeins and knitted it up into socks, all for gifts, and loved every moment of knitting with this stuff. The wool is infused with aloe and it softened my fingers while knitting. I can just imagine how it would be for the feet!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #9 – hand spun and dyed wool, green

I was given this wool as a departure gift when I left my teaching position in Maine. My mentor teacher was also a knitter and she spun and dyed this for me. Aww!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #10 – hand spun and dyed wool, purple

My mentor teacher from Maine spun and dyed this one for me, too!

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Cascade 220

 

Sock Stash #11 – Cascade 220

I bought this stuff out of the “orphans” basket at Fiberphilia in 2007. I intended to make socks out of it, and still do, but I’ve started and frogged a few other projects with it in between.

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self-striping sock kit dyed for me as a gift

 

Sock Stash #12 – hand dyed wool, multi

Another hand-dyed gift from my mentor teacher in Maine. She used one of the self-striping kits from Knit Picks and went to town with the dye! It’s a crazy hodge-podge of color and I love it!

 

Opal

Sock Stash #13 – Opal

I bought this yarn at the Yard Goods Center in Waterville, ME back in 2007. I just cast on a pair of socks with it out of the Nancy Bush book, Knitting Vintage Socks.

* * *

So that’s the sock yarn stash! I’ll be knitting exclusively from the stash this year to whittle down the collection.

I also have a book goal but I’ll be writing about that on Sunday.

What are you working on this year? What ideas do you have to use what you have and save money? What are  your productivity goals?

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Mittens and UFOs. Oh, my!

I’ve been working on making mittens for Gabe and his folks lately (1 of 3 so far!) and as I wrote about earlier, I made a huge leap in my mitten making. I won’t go into it again in this post, but you can read about it here. Instead of trying to explain what I did, let me refer to you the indispensable Knitting Help article with videos on Knitting Increases. I used the third method down on the chart, M1R and M1L. Why I didn’t think of using this method for increasing on thumb gussets before? Anyhow, I’m using them now and that’s all that matters.

I was unable to get some good pictures to share for a few days as the lighting in the apartment hasn’t been the best, and it’s been too cold to go outside and get pictures in my favorite local park. I have some now, though! Here they are:

Classic Mitten for Gabe

Mitten one and mitten two on the needles.

 

Classic Mitten for Gabe

See what I mean about holes? When I stopped correcting the twist, I stopped making holes.

***

In response to my attempt at making her recipe, Chocolate-Covered Katie wrote in the comments:

Oh you are TOO sweet!! :) :) :)
Seeing this post just made my day. Your blog is adorable!

Well, thank you, Katie! I love your blog, too! I hope I can do your recipe justice soon!

***

On the original mitten post, Mittens:  A Knitter’s JourneyTK wrote in the comments:

I love making mittens. My favorite part is the thumb gusset–I always use the M1 or lifted increase, unless I’m following a pattern with a different style of thumb. For some reason my ease is always off and my mittens are very snug. Except the thumb, which is nearly always perfect.

I see what you mean, TK! This is such an efficient and beautiful way of making increases.

***

In an email to me, Jennifer R. wrote:

Thanks for updating me!  I hadn’t read your blog before and just read your latest post on mittens.  I don’t normally read text posts all the way through, but this was a very heartwarming story. 🙂  You’ve just given me such a great idea of knitting hats for charity – I just learned how to make hats and it seems like the perfect useful gift for someone!

Thank you, Jennifer R., for your kind words! It means a lot that you had such a great experience reading the post. It reminded me, as well, that I haven’t done as much charity knitting as I used to and would like to. You’ve inspired me to make that a greater part of my day!

After finishing Robert’s Scott Pilgrim hat, I had a skein of blue and brown wool left. I woke up Saturday morning and had a burst of inspiration for charity knitting! I’ll be posting a colorwork chart for baby and kid hats soon! Stay tuned!

***

FebisforFinisingroseandblack

Did you know that February is for Finishing? As stated in the rules, I must have a complete list of UFOs (unfinished objects) by February 1. I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon. (March is for making mates for all those mittens and socks!)

***

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Tea-for-one pot, bone china cup, and citrus to fight off a cold with beauty and VitC

I’m nursing the cold I wrote about yesterday with ginger, thyme, lemon, and honey tea. Little things, like pretty tea-for-one pots and pretty bone china cups, make cold season more tolerable.

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Pretty tea pot!

 

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Gabe gave me a set of four for my birthday. He's a keeper, for sure!

***

Stay warm! Enjoy your Tuesday!

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Content

a view from the living room door

a view from the living room door

I haven’t posted in forever. Part of the reason is because I’ve been in a rut and the other part is because once I got out of the rut, I was simply content with nothing major to report.  Then today, in the 43 degree weather that allowed me to open up all the windows and doors to air out the house and sit on the front steps, I realized that contentment is just as worth to write about as everything else.

So there you have it. Life is good.

I’m on the downward slide to the end of the school year and I have all my planning for classes done from now to the end of March. My grading is completely caught up (actually, I’m so on top of things I grade stuff the same day I get it!). And I’ve actually had time to knit, watch TV, and read!

raglan cardigan

raglan cardigan

I’ve been working on a basic raglan cardigan and I’m a row or two away from taking it off the needles and trying it on. I’m going to post about that later today. It’s a nice grey-brown color that will go with just about anything. I love brown. It’s a great color.  While that’s going, I’ve been carrying a basic k3 p2 cowl around with me in a charcoal alpaca yarn that I bought back in 2003 and only used part of for a hat for Allan. I bought enough for a hat and scarf set but ended up only getting to the hat, actually, two hats. Allan has two hats out of this stuff and I’m making a cowl out of the rest. It’s super soft and had a great sheen.

It’s been sunny a lot the last week and my mood has been perking up. I always knew how much the lack of sun and the cold affects me, but this winter hammered it  home. I have a light therapy lamp. I’m going to make regular use of it next  year starting in October. I stopped using it because you have to use it for half an hour or more every day in the morning. And it’s on my desk. So I have to get up, shower, get dressed, make breakfast and then sit in front of the thing for half an hour. It’s a huge time commitment. I stopped because of how early I’d have to get up, and how late I was up to get school stuff done. I figured the extra sleep would help out more than the light. And it did, a little.

That’s another huge change I’ve made. I made a commitment to myself that no matter what, I’ll get enough sleep each night. Each night I go upstairs by 9:45 to read a little before I fall asleep, which is usually around 10:15. And I’ve been getting up at 5:40, 40 minutes later than usual. Getting a solid 7 hours of sleep has greatly improved my mood and memory. Prior to this change, I’d head upstairs at 10:30 or 11 and wake up at 5. I didn’t get nearly as much done because I was so tired all the time. Getting enough sleep isn’t just a luxury, it’s necessary for full functionality.

I also started running seriously again. I have posts on my running blog about my recent sessions. I’m training for a duathlon in early May and I’m excited. I think I’ll do just fine, once I get the miles under my belt again, that is.

So that’s that. I’ll post pictures of knitting projects as soon as I have something worth showing. (And as soon as I have someone to take pictures. My resident photographer has been out and about on the weekends during the daylight hours.)

Snow and Knitting (and PTSD)

Those in the northeast are well aware that Maine got another dumping of snow. I don’t mind. Not really. I’m over the snow panic, mostly. I just view it as a good excuse to curl up with some tea and knitting or a book near the wood stove.

Winter is a time of introspection, when all of nature returns to the core and builds up strength for the coming growing season. I, too, have been spending a lot of time within lately. I’ve been revisiting old wounds and sorting the past out into little manageable piles again. Every so often this process is necessary. To make progress towards being completely healthy, I have to keep that stuff dusted off and organized so I don’t stumble over it by accident. I don’t like to be surprised by old memories as they tend to resurface at the most inconvenient times.

Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been a challenge. In my quest for full healing, I have been dealing with processing and facing triggers head on so they begin to lose their power over me. From the literature on PTSD caused by abuse, acknowledging the trigger and pushing past it is one of the most powerful ways to heal. You’ve got to revisit the scene of the crime in the body and allow the memories to surface. It’s so hard and upsetting. I’ve been doing a little bit of this lately, out of a need to reclaim parts of myself, and I honestly can’t think of a harder job I’ve done in my life.

This process has brought me back to my roots in knitting. Some of my earliest traumatic experiences coincided with learning to knit from my grandmother, Nana Sirois. At first, learning to knit each stitch helped take my mind off everything, it allowed me to channel my focus and drown out the world. Eventually when I got better, it was then an opportunity to be busy, to be doing something productive, and meditate. Knitting has always held an important and powerful role in my life.

And now, as I revisit old wounds and care for them tenderly, knitting is the salve yet again. Simply  handling wool is calming. Feeling the texture between my fingers and idly wondering what to knit it into helps me return to my core, to the safe place within myself, from which to face head on the monsters from the past.

This process has been a hard journey, but the most important one of my life.

Column of Leaves Scarf

Column of Leaves Scarf

Lately I’ve been working on the Column of Leaves scarf. I’ll knit 16 rows or so of the pattern and then rip it out. Knit some more and rip it out. The pattern is a new challenge, as this is my second simple lace project, but it’s given me just what I need. The focal point and rhythm my life has been built out of. The soft click and slide of the needles. The turning of faces. The steady progression.

Week in Review

This week was the first week back after a long break of 12 days. I didn’t realize how much I needed those 12 days until about midway through when I realized I wasn’t clenching my jaw and racewalking everywhere. It was nice to be able to relax and take it easy. My serious relaxing helped me get to the point where I feel optimistic and energized again. I lost that verve around the time of that SAT training. (remember that horrific few weeks? A few friends thought I was ready to quit my job and walk away! They weren’t too far off.) Right up until break, I was in survival mode. I wasn’t necessarily doing what was best for me or for the students. And that didn’t make me feel too good about myself. Vicious cycle, you know.

But I took it easy and now I LOVE getting up in the morning. Well, no, that isn’t true, but I do look forward to each school day now. And what more, I’m actually prepared and ready for it! I had this major break through where I learned how to do my job effectively. It’s weird. It’s like looking at those magic eye posters and all you see at first is this chaos of colors and dots; then it happens: you see the sailboat. I sit down at my desk at the end of the day and I know what I have to do, and not only know it, but can do it and do it well now. It’s nice.

So that’s the day job that helps me afford my habits. You know the one of which I speak:  wool. Lots and lots of wool and knitting. I started a new scarf using a simple lacy leaf column pattern in Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool. I love the pattern and I’m enjoying the wool. But, this is my second semi-successful lace project and I have learned first hand the wisdom of lifelines. I have ripped the same 20 rows out, back down to casting on, three times now. I have to cast on again and get going on it. Believe you me, I’m going to put that lifeline in every 8 rows, or as needed, religiously!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I got running again. Boy did I need to get running again. I couldn’t fit into my work pants that I bought last winter because I couldn’t fit into my pants. That’s a problem. Damn you! holiday food and your delicious calorie-rich habit-forming varieties! I’ve  had my eating back on track for two weeks now and I’ve seen some improvement in the waistline, but the bands are still a little tight. I’m hoping that I’ll be back into my pants comfortably by the end of the month. I’ve got 20 days.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I’m feeling better overall. There’s another contributor to this change:  I stopped my birth control. Ever since I began birth control back in 2000, I was never able to stay on any one for more than 8 months because of the side effects. And I’m talking about more than gaining weight and breaking out for a little bit. All birth control makes me depressed, and some make me ride a rollercoaster of emotions. The one I just quit, for the better!, was the latter. For the entire 6 months I was on it, I was, for all intents and purposes, insane. I’d cry, mope, get pissy, or dispondent for no reason at all. It was awful. And it’s always the worst when I’m about 3 months into it. And I was at month three when the SAT training hit. No wonder I was so messed up. I started the BC this last time because I have ovarian cysts and they were getting painful again. Unfortunately, the common method of treating them, namely BC, simply does not work for me. I’m going to be hitting the natural and holistic book section of the library here pretty quick because the hormones in the pills simply do not mix well with me.

Like I mentioned, I feel great. I stopped the BC pill two months ago and I feel like I have control over my life again. The running and getting better at my job only helps boost my esteem. It’s onward and upward!

Woolley Inspiration

the green and grey (x2) are still in my stash, plus 4 hanks of a rich sky blue

Filatura di Crosa Fisherman Wool: the green and grey (x2) are still in my stash, plus 4 hanks of a rich sky blue

I got the best knitting inspiration and energy the night before I head back to school. This came about while Allan and I were dismantling the tree and I needed a tote to put all the boxes and ornaments in. I have a huge tote full of wool that has not been given a purpose yet, so I dumped it out, put the ornaments in the tote, and then began going through the odds and ends of wool.

Most of this wool was inherited. I have a lot of natural hand-dyed and homespun wool that Allan’s grandmother gave me that I haven’t put to use yet. And I have ends of projects. And I have 4 hanks of a beautiful blue icelandic wool, as well as 2 hanks of charcoal and 1 hank of sea foam green. And then I have some wool/cashmere blend that I picked up at Friends’ Folly  Farm last summer. And so much other stuff that I can’t even name it all. While going through all this, winding it up and putting it in boxes, it occurred to me that all this wool does, indeed, have a purpose. And that purpose is striped hats, mittens, mini-sweaters, mini-mittens, and all kinds of other things that I can knit up, store, and give away when the time is right.

I haven’t knit up most of this stuff simply because I’m fussy with colors. If the color isn’t quite right, which is often the case with wool that is given to me, I simply set it aside and move on to wool that is the right color. But then, the mountain such as I described builds.

But tonight, after catching up with Exercise Before Knitting, I have so many ideas for that wool I simply want to spend my time knitting. Instead, after publishing this post, I need to get back to planning and grading, stuff I should have done in small bits over break but didn’t, tonight to be ready for the coming week.

Oh well.

At least I have a whole year between me and the next round of holidays. That’s a great thought! I have so much material to work with! This coming weekend, when I have some more time, I’ll photograph the stash and post the photos and ideas. Perhaps you’ll have some ideas I haven’t thought of yet for it. If so, please don’t hold back!

Until then, I must finish up some things for school. I’m working on that whole balancing knitting and work thing and trying to keep everything in perspective. With all this new knitting energy, this may be more difficult than I imagined! 🙂 At least creativity breeds creativity! I’m all organized, school and crafting, so I’m off to a good start in 2009!

New Year's Outlook

The turn of the calendar is full of reflection, though I tend to do more reflection around the turn of my age. I do have a little more reflecting to do, and news, but reflecting first.

The year 2008 contained many things, including:  and end, summer and beginning of an academic year; a new cohabitation set up; the addition of a pet (hi Clarence!); advancing knitting skill; and developed more confidence in myself.

I’ve always been a goal-setter, a resolution maker. I guess it’s the residual Mormon in me, just like stocking the pantry full of canned and dry goods. Since I was a young child, I journaled and the beginning of a new year was like magic. During the next 365 days I could make myself into a new person, the person I wanted to be. The turning of the calendar is symbolic of a fresh start, a clean slate. What I didn’t realize when I was younger is that you had to know what you wanted and where you were going before you set down goals. The ones I created from the time I could write to the end of  high school consisted of a variation of the following:  flatten my tummy, clear up my skin, find good jeans, get good grades, grow my hair out (cut it, dye it, etc) and others. What I didn’t realize then is that the goal I had in mind was this idealized vision of life and a woman. The goal I had in mind was a static commercial life that had no depth. It took years of maturation and reflection to realize that scars, curves and sometimes even poor grades add dimension, depth, and understanding that creates a person far more dynamic, interesting, and alluring than the one I envisioned when I was fourteen.

So, I offer my life-goals and states of being and then the steps I hope to accomplish during this revolution of the earth.

I want:  a stable life, including a friend and lover that will stand by my side, secure finances, and a warm, lovely, and inviting home; a plot of earth to garden and cultivate to create beauty and health; a task that can become my life mission that will benefit others; health and fitness; the love and friendship of kindred spirits; and plenty of books to read and wool to knit.

I have:  a loving and supportive husband; finances that are slowly climbing out of the college-loan debt and gaining ground towards a home of my very own; two baskets full of wool and even more visions of projects to create from this stash; little green friends in pots around the house; two book shelves full of books to read (plus libraries and ebooks!); and the sacred mission of educating our youth.

This year, I hope to accomplish the following to move me closer to my ultimate vision of life:

  • continue on the path of emotional and physical health, including being more open about my life experiences (my dear readers have often been more privy than those I converse with on my couch)
  • find ways to balance my career and my personal life so that I feel that they are in harmony rather than in discord with each other
  • continue to nurture and develop my relationship with my husband
  • find more time to spend with my loved ones and friends
  • continue to be thrifty and frugal to save money towards big life purchases
  • find more time to knit and read for pleasure during the academic year

I know, not very specific, but I’ve learned, through reflection, that if I set parameters on goals, I won’t do them, but if I have a general goal, one that is ultimately geared towards balance and harmony, I will acheive great things.

On to news.

I spent the last three days visiting friends and family in the Bangor area. We picked up and began playing Settlers of Catan and the menfolk ended up playing game after game while I bowed out halfway through the first game. The game breeds competition, trickery, and isolation. It bothered me so much I got angry and nearly started crying. I can’t play games that cause people to pull apart. It’s the nurturer and pacifist in me. The menfolk enjoyed it and they did tone down the competition and, as a spectator, it began to bother me a little less. I still don’t know that it’s a game I’d enjoy playing.

While in the area, I connected with a friend I made while I was working on my Master’s program. Robert wanted to learn to knit, so we sat down for hours going over web resources, terms, basic constructions, and all that. It was great to have a rapt pupil. After two hours of going over patterns and helping him learn to read them and understand the construction, we ventured in to town to get materials. When we returned to Veazie, we sat for two hours knitting. It was so cool.

On top of the knitting, we had a really good and open conversation. A few months ago, Robert and his fiancee separated because she is going through some personal development and dealing with her past, learning to cope with many of the same things I, too, experienced. Over knitting, I opened up to Robert about things that very few people on this planet know about. My voice and hands shook as I recounted some of my experiences and the impact they had on my life and the difficulty in learning healthy and positive coping skills. It was a quiet and hard conversation, and I was shaky for hours after, but I felt so free, and strong.

I felt like I became real. I became alive. I owned the experiences and looked them straight in the face and discussed them plainly and frankly with another (someone other than Allan and other confidantes). This was one of the most powerful and life changing experiences I’ve had. Being able to freely and openly trace the path my life has taken, without polishing or dusting, and with my own voice and not fingertips, tapped into the strength and vivacity I’ve developed but never knew I had.

That conversation took place yesterday, on the first day of the New  Year. With that energy, I hope to enact great change and growth in the days to come.

Here’s to the new year!

Knitting through the Holidays

My brother-in-law is packing up his car to head back up the highway to Veazie today. The tree’s lights haven’t been turned on in two days; it may come down later tonight. It’s the dolldrums after the holiday rush. I look forward to the process of settling back into everyday rhythms. It’s not that I find the holidays unpleasant; they simply upset my delicate balance.

Knitting is one of the activities that helps me keep that balance and I’ve been knitting a lot.

For my birthday, on top of a delicious meal and a dozen roses, Allan got me the best gift ever:  The Knitter’s Book of Yarn.

The Knitter's Book of Yarn

The Knitter's Book of Yarn

This book has been on my list since it was published. It’s amazing. All the positive reviews don’t do it justice. This book is magic. I love it. From this book, I added the following projects to my wishlist:

Girly Tee

Girly Tee

This is Girly Tee by Lana Hames on page 157. It’s a basic knitted tee. And that outfit is totally my style, too. I’d probably knit it up in a rich plum color. Yum. Plum.

Vines Cardigan

Vines Cardigan

And who wouldn’t love an angora cardigan as soft and as lovely as this? Another dream list project. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll splurge for this project over the summer. This one is designed by Amy King.

Cabled Swing Cardi

Cabled Swing Cardi

I love this cardi (Allan  hates that word, but I like it) by Norah Gaughan. No surprise here, though, I love all of her designs. I’d make this in a rich berry color or a rich green. And I love that the pattern is designed with Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I use Ultra Alpaca for nearly all of my projects.

Hexacomb Cardigan

Hexacomb Cardigan

After getting this book, reading it cover to cover three times and dreaming of the wonderful projects, I got yet another wonderful knitting related birthday gift:  my mother-in-law took me yarn shopping! I picked up 5 hanks of Bali in a berry color (81) and 1 hank in a cream color (04) to make Hexacomb. I can’t wait to wear it this spring. I plan on casting on for this probably around February vacation, if not sooner. I have a lot of projects in the mix that I want to finish before starting this one.

On top of the Bali, I picked up two skeins of Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox (60% superwash wool, 25% bamboo, 15% nylon) to make more socks for me and Allan. I love knitting socks. I love how portable and quick they are. And I love the satisfaction of wearing handknit socks. I rarely have bad days when I wear handknit socks. It’s like wearing lingerie under clothing, no one knows but you and it makes you feel super-special. It’s awesome.

Capn Crunch

Cap'n Crunch

And if that craziness wasn’t enough, I picked up a skein of Manos del Uruguay from Fiberphilia when they were having their Thanksgiving Day sale to make Cap’n Crunch by Jennifer Adams. I cast on for that yesterday after I finished Justin’s Norwegian Star and my Ridiculously-Huge Tam made out of wool dyed at Spunky Eclectic and spun by a colleague of mine. She gave it to me as a Christmas gift – from one fiber-head to another! 🙂

ridiculously-huge tam

ridiculously-huge tam

another view of the ridiculously-huge tam

another view of the ridiculously-huge tam

I’m getting my inner hippy on with this hat. I love it. I’ve been wearing it ever since I finished it off yesterday. And as a side note, it’s not really that orange and bright in real-life. I have horrible lighting in this house and the bathroom bulbs throw off a yellow light that made it look far more orange than it is.

Are you ready for the ultimate knitting gift? I got this the day after Christmas when we had our family christmas party here (more on that soon) from Allan’s grandmother, Sallie. In her day, she was a knitter, a hooker, a dyer and a spinner. She taught classes on how to dye wool with plants gathered from the wild. She used to do spinning demonstrations. I met Allan a year after she donated her huge stash, all her wheels and spindles, and all her dying materials to a local history museum. She wishes she’d have waited a little bit. Oh well.

But anyway, Grammie is always on the lookout for cool knitting related items for me. And she struck gold. She found a first-edition  hand-numbered mint-condition copy of Arans – A Saga in Wool by Lee-lee Schlegel published in 1980.

Arans - A Saga in Wool by Lee-lee Schlegel

Arans - A Saga in Wool by Lee-lee Schlegel

This book is absolutely amazing. It’s a study of the history, origins and development of the Aran Island gansey and its ornamentation (from the cover of the book). I haven’t dared to crack it open yet because I don’t know if I’m ready to handle the wealth of knowledge contained within. I’m working up my courage to do so after tea today.

So that’s the majority of the knitting related content of the last few weeks. I hope to do a life stuff update soon (maybe tomorrow?).

Where has the time gone?

Just a few days ago I was shocked that it was December already and now I’m 10 days into the month! Eek! December goes so fast. As it is, I completely omitted my traditional birthday post (on the 8th)! I’ve been so busy teaching the kiddies that I completely forgot that I have a fawning public waiting patiently to hear me give my yearly update of where I’ve been and what I’ve done and where I plan to go from here. *waves to readers*

This time last year I was so depressed, cold, alone (and now I have a k’s Choice song stuck in my head) in my little apartment in the next town over with Allan one-hundred miles up the highway with piles of papers and planning. I’ve come a long way. Now, instead of being depressed and alone, I’m simply dealing with the rest. And I’m not overwhelmed, either. It’s amazing how much happens in a year.

Here are the accomplishments and growths during my twenty-sixth year of life:

  • I landed my first position in my career.
  • I survived my first year of teaching and learned a ton of technical and social education skills.
  • I learned that I can live on my own but I don’t desire it.
  • I founded the Monmouth Academy Anime Club.
  • I began running for the joy of it (read, being healthy and hot).
  • I ran my first road race.
  • I am currently receiving medical care for my shoulder and I should be functional again soon!
  • I sought medical care for my back and it is better, too. (Thanks Dr. Lawson!)
  • I married my best friend on my own terms.
  • I reconsolidated my loans in a program that will forgive the remaining debt after 120 payments (10 years and I’m free!).
  • I completed my first lace project.
  • I completed my first sweater project.
  • I figured out that I am, indeed, an awesome teacher.
  • I gained some confidence in myself and my abilities that had been lost sometime in college.

Where do I want to go from here? That’s a mighty big list of accomplishments for one year of life. I do have some goals for the next year, though.

For health and running:

  • Continue running and improve my form.
  • Improve my time for 5k runs.
  • Increase my weekly and daily distance.
  • Run some more 5k races and try a 10k.
  • Continue introducing new fruits and vegetables into my diet.

For my career:

  • Continue to improve my curriculum.
  • Continue to seek out feedback on my performance and make measurable and concerted effort to improve.
  • Find a better method of record keeping (grades, plans, behaviors/contacts, etc).
  • Seek out new methods of engaging students.

For my relationships with my husband, family, and friends:

  • Improve the frequency of my correspondence with loved ones far away. (In other words, pick up the phone or send an email!)
  • Continue to discuss rather than argue with Allan about tension-promoting issues.
  • Get over my preoccupation with being judged all the time (I’m so self-conscious!) and just enjoy being with them! I don’t have to be perfect; I have to be my loving and warm self!

For my finances:

  • Continue to make progress on my student loans.
  • Start a retirement savings program and put in as much as I’m able.
  • Start setting aside money for big ticket items (a new car and/or a house).

So that’s the bullet point list. The narrative version goes something like this:

I’ve grown so much as a person this last year. Once timid and reserved, I started getting over some of my self-consciousness that prevented me from being more open with those around me. Much of this stems from my childhood experiences, many of which are mentioned if not discussed here on this blog. I’ve grown less angry, though no less resentful, and more willing to reconnect with those from the past, namely, my extended family.

Much of this personal change climaxed when I married Allan. After getting married, I had this sense of security that I had been missing in my life. Not that I didn’t feel secure in my relationship, that wasn’t it at all. It was more a sense that finally, after all the broken promises of childhood, I was making a promise with someone I know would follow through. Our lives settled down tremendously. I’m so content now. I feel even tempered and more open to love those around me because I’m not holding onto myself so tightly.

Further, I’ve gained a significant degree of confidence in myself as an educator, too. Last year was rough and this year had some bumps and I truly questioned whether or not teaching was a good career choice. I have no doubt of it now. Much of this confidence came when I simply told myself to smarten up and do what needs doing and not worry about the rest. And even more when I took up a video game that occupied the same space in my brain as teaching so I wouldn’t obsess. If I have a fault, it’s obsessing over situations, comments, and my areas for improvement. I often have a hard time accepting that I don’t have to be perfect and that includes my career, too.

But I’m getting better! I’m coming to accept my personality and view of the world (I once masked my perspective for fear it wasn’t as good as that of others), my physical body (I feel so powerful when I run!), and my life with all its history. As Dido says in one of her songs, I’m finally feeling safe in my own skin.

With warmest wishes, Little Bee.