6

The Things We Do For Love

Perler Beads!

 

My son has recently discovered Minecraft.  I’m ashamed to say that I do let him play it on my ipad from time to time.  His will be a tech savvy generation, no? But I seriously do not understand the draw. The graphics suck and it seems jerky and, yes I’m being judgy – pointless. Early on I tried to figure out how to play because he was so frustrated trying to figure out how to do things on his own and wanted help. I thought maybe I could assist.  Ha ha!  Silly Moo Moo (Uptown’s special name for me)! Did you really think you could understand?  Come on. But leave it to my kid to teach himself everything he wanted to know by watching Kids’ Youtube videos (good thing people like publishing tutorials).  How can you fault a kid who knows what he wants and then goes and finds the answers for himself? I almost feel like letting him play is teaching him something. Seriously, the kid is nearly 6 and he can do this?  Oy.

Unfortunately it’s become a HUGE obsession.  Rarely does a statement issue from his mouth that does not include something about Creepers, Steve, Redstone, Endermen, or what happens when lava meets water in Minecraft world. I feel he’s barely scratched the surface of what you can do with the game (which is fine with me) and already I feel my eyes glaze over when he starts Minecraft speaking.  But I have found a way to make the Minecraft obsession a little more productive and a little less boring for me. Enter Perler Beads.

During the holidays, one of Uptown’s advent gifts was a small Perler kit of a penguin. Immediately, he wanted to make more.  I don’t know what it is about junky plastic stuff, but kids just love it. But the awesome thing about this activity is the fact that he is working on fine motor control, distinguishing shades of color, and counting.  I’ve heard these can even improve hand-eye coordination. And guess what?  Pinterest and the interwebz are positively swarming with free Minecraft patterns.  Yesterday I set him up with a few (here) and he just kept wanting to make more and more.  Fantastic!  We can satisfy the love for Minecraft without even touching the iPad.

Of course today I find myself huddled over a giant vat of Perler Beads (22,000 to be exact) sorting, sorting, sorting.  Because apparently that’s how I roll.  Do not give me something that needs to be categorized or sorted out, or I will obsessively work like a little monkey until that sh*t is done. Ah, the things we do for love.

As for my socks, they are coming along nicely as well.  I treated myself to a new pair of needles with my Loopy Ewe end of the year credit and I’m so glad I did.  These are 40″ Chiaogoo Lace circulars, size 1.5 and they rock out with their socks out!  WAY better than the Knit Picks fixed Harmony circulars I was using prior.  The joins are super smooth and the cord has very little memory (unlike the Knit Picks Harmonys) which makes knitting magic loop so much more enjoyable. My knitting motto this year is: Socks for ’16 and I have a feeling these will get me there.

 

Los Monos Locos

4

What’s Up 2016?

Monkeys & Legos

Ah, hello Day 2 of the New Year! Or are you no longer new now that you are 2 days old? No matter.  I am still feeling the brand new optimism that comes from the arrival of a new year.

Lists and plans are still a thing of the future today.  I’ve got time and I will get down to business when I’m good and ready.  Today I am working on my first project of the new year and cooking my Mom a batch of my Dad’s spaghetti sauce.  It feels auspicious that I am doing both these things on the second day of the year.

The holidays always remind me of my Dad.  We would wait for all our favorite Christmas specials to come on TV after dinner. Hurry! Charlie Brown Christmas is starting! Now it’s all on demand, but back then we had to make sure we were planted in front of the TV on the proper channel or we’d miss out.  There was something special about not being able to pause or rewind our favorite specials.  You had to be present both physically and emotionally.  I kind of miss those days.  But mostly, I miss my Dad.  He passed away in 2009 and sometimes I almost forget he won’t answer the phone when I call or give me a whiskery kiss and tell me not to take any “wooden nickels.” But I keep him alive making his spaghetti sauce.  He taught me his “recipe” many years ago and I almost never cook it, choosing the speedy cheater method I’ve developed over years of college and young professional life rather than the low and slow day long approach his recipe requires.  A couple years ago I didn’t know what to give my Mom for Mother’s Day, so I decided to dig out my handwritten recipe from the cooking lesson Dad gave me so many years ago, and I made her a batch.  My Mom, notoriously hard to please with gifts, practically shed a tear.  You’d think I’d delivered the moon and stars. Today, I’m giving that gift again.  But really, it’s a gift for both of us. We both get to start the year with my Dad.

As for the socks, they’re auspicious too. I knit a pair of Cookie A’s Monkey socks a couple years ago and really enjoyed both the process and the result.  My plan (as yet fully unrevealed) for 2016 is to knit a lot of socks.  That’s all I’m really committing to you see: a lot. No specific number, no limiting myself to only socks this year….. why stress? But more on that later.  Anyway, back to the Monkey thing.  The pattern I cast on for is a version of the Monkey socks, but toe-up and purl-less.  It’s called Los Monos Locos and has been in my queue since April 2011 (!). Though I loved the Monkey pattern and really want a pair for myself, I thought it would be more fun to work on my queue at the same time I work on my sock problem er, goals.  So I cast on and guess what I discovered while surreptitiously slurping photos for my Ravelry project page?  The Chinese Astrology Year of the Monkey begins in February.

How’s that for auspicious?

2

The Waiting Place

Military Ribbon Afghan


Today I find myself in The Waiting Place; that pause between what has been and what is to come. Christmas overload has ended and the New Year is still patiently waiting its entry into the world. I reflect on what I have and have not done over the past 365 days and what I hope to make manifest with the birth of a new year. But there is a prevalent calm here in the waiting place.  I have the promise of something exciting to look forward to, yet no expectation that I must act upon that promise just yet.  I am waiting in pregnant stillness, like a runner at the starting line. Will this year’s race be for endurance or a flat-out sprint? I don’t know yet, only that I can and will run when it’s time.

While in the waiting place, I am keeping busy.  We are building legos and resting, taking things at our own pace.  I am resurrecting half-done projects (like the one above), hoping I can start the new year with a clean-ish slate. In a couple more days the time for action will arrive. I will make my lists, start my planning, and begin my journey down the road that will be 2016. Until then I wait. And that’s just fine with me.

 

1

Advent-eriffic

Meet Jack.

He is our very new “watch elf” (no, not a “scout” elf, according to Knittymunchkin – because he’s “watching me!”).

His hobbies include:

Pilfering leftover Halloween candy at night when the humans are sleeping, napping under the Christmas tree and riding the T. rex. When he’s not riding the T. rex, he’s usually on the motorcycle, and once we caught him trying to cheat on his nightly trip to the North Pole by attempting to phone Santa instead (on a defunct cell phone). He’s keeping us VERY busy!

Advent is keeping me busy too.  Several years ago now I knit Smitten for Knittymunchkin (unblogged of course, because that’s how I roll apparently). We didn’t have a lot of Christmas traditions when I was a kid, but a few times I was gifted an advent calendar by a neighbor or relative.  I clearly remember the anticipation of opening each new window (never mind that chocolate was never involved, just a colored image on card stock) and the building excitement as I counted the days until Christmas. I wanted so much for my son to experience the magic that I had, and for us to build some of our own traditions.  The first year I was not quite prepared and the last few mittens were actually unfinished at the start of December.  My brilliant super knitty pal Troy, suggested I just hide them each day since I couldn’t have them all hanging on a string ready to go. Guess what?  A new tradition was born.  Now I hide them every day for Knittymunchkin in the month of December and I can say we have truly made an advent activity that is uniquely ours. I love it.

Though I am Pinterest late-comer, I have the site to thank for some of our cool new advent activities this year. When I started this tradition for my son, I told myself I didn’t want it to be all about receiving gifts or rotting our teeth out with candy.  Lucky for me, others share the same feelings (and their ideas for navigating it) on Pinterest.  For the first time this year I feel I’ve been fairly well prepared.

A few of the fun things we did this year:

  • Wrote a letter to Santa. There’s lots of great templates to be found.  I liked this one for this year. Uptown (formerly known as Knittymunchkin) was able to fill out some of his own answers and I filled in the more complicated phrases.  He thinks I need a pink teddy bear because “you’re the best mommy in the world.” Awww…..
  • Received a letter from Santa. O.k., not really an advent activity, but still a super exciting thing for a kid to receive.  All the details are here and it totally works!
  • We made Snowball Playdough. Simple, and a total hit! Find it here.
  • Melted Crayon Ornaments. We turned those crayons (above) into ornaments (below) and gifted them to friends. Find it here.  Just a couple notes….. Do NOT attempt this project if you only own a prehistoric hairdryer that is over 25 years old (like mine). You will be frustrated and probably burn your fingers attempting to melt those damn nubs of crayon.  At least I was.  All crayons are not melted alike. I noticed that off-brand crayons melted at a different rate from Crayola crayons and it was frustrating to not have all of them melting at once.  But this could also be my crappy ass hairdryer coming into play. Also, I had A TON of trouble getting the unmelted nubs of crayon out of the bulbs after we had the inside decorated to our satisfaction.  After many swear words and angry shaking of the ornaments (resulting in at least one casualty), I resorted to using the smallest possible bits of crayon & just melting them to extinction.  You really don’t need much to coat the inside of each ornament.  Much less than you would think. And it’s strangely satisfying to watch them melt into oblivion. Unless your fingers are on fire. I let Uptown pick the colors and I did the heating, so this might not be super appropriate for smaller kiddos, but he still seemed to enjoy it.  I’m sensing a bit of a color theme here….. He didn’t branch out too much with his choices. Maybe next time.

Hope you have enjoyed the weeks leading up to Christmas (or your festivity of choice) with your own fantastic, unique traditions!  I’d love to hear what you do with your families to prepare for the holidays :)

11

A Knitter in Crisis

On November 7, 2015 I uttered the words I thought I’d never say: “I think I need to stop knitting.” And I was dead serious.

Earlier that day I had picked up the sweater I finished this year for Loopy Academy, Freshman Year, Semester 2: Slipped Stitches and was stunned to find a small moth hole in the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater. Don’t believe the hype – they DO ABSOLUTELY eat new yarn.  I only wore this sweater for a few minutes to take photos. That was it.

Suck Factor: infinity.

As I looked at it I thought, well, maybe I could repair that small bit.  It was only a couple stitches, I caught them in time, and any knitter worth their salt should be able to fix something like that, right? Thinking I’d catch those motherf*&%^$ing moths while they were sleeping, I decided to soak the sweater first to drown any remaining munchy perpetrators. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Modest Sweater with more holes the size of reindeer. It’s probably good I gave it a bath and saw just how much damage was caused, or I might have tried to repair it first and realized later it was a lost cause. I wasted enough time knitting it, I didn’t want to waste any extra time repairing it.

After the sweater debacle in the morning, I was decidedly (and deservedly) down. What was the point of it all? Why should I continue to knit if this kind of thing is going to happen (it’s happened on a smaller scale before)? Why why why? What a waste of time and effort.  There were tears in my voice when I told my husband I should just quit knitting. He looked at me with as much sympathy as a non-knitter, non-hand-knit-wearer could muster and said, “But you love it.  It’s not about finishing things for you. It’s about the process.” Does this man know me or what? Everything he said rang true.

I haven’t given up on knitting, but I am taking a small break to regroup and fortify my spirit against the evil moth hordes. I am …gasp… crocheting with perle cotton and purchased acrylic (ick) for two projects. There are reasons for those things not entirely related to the wool hell I’ve been in, but there’s definitely a correlation. I’ve been burned.

But like a moth to a flame…. or more like a moth to wool….. I’m sure I’ll be back.

In the meantime, please answer me this: Why do you knit/crochet/create? I absolutely need to know the meaning of (knit)life!

1

Thankful 

Tomorrow will be a busy day for me.  For the first time in nearly 12 years or more, my husband will be working on Thanksgiving and I will be entertaining our family nearly alone. But don’t feel sad for me (not that you would, but just in case you were going there). I have so much to be thankful for!

Today I am preparing some foods in advance for the very first time so that I can spend a little more time visiting with family tomorrow instead of cursing at the gravy and potatoes to “boil faster dammit!”, while begging the turkey not to cool off so fast. And while I am chopping, baking, boiling, mashing and mixing today, I will have lots of time to reflect on the good things in my life.

I have a “Counting My Blessings” book that someone gifted me many years ago, and I got it out early this summer to work on with my 5 year old son. We were going through a big “I want…”, “I need….”, “Get me…..” sort of stage and I wanted him to spend some time thinking about all the good things he already has and how material things aren’t necessarily needs, but more like wants. It was nice to sit down as a family at dinner and each think of three things we were thankful for.  Unfortunately, it’s fizzled a bit because things got busy and no one wanted to do the activity but me.  I got tired of saying, “come on guys, please think of something to write down!”, and becoming that kind of person, forcing everyone to do something they should just want to do on their own. But I still think it’s worthwhile to write it down and it’s fun to reflect on past entries in the years that follow.

So here’s my list for this day before Thanksgiving 2015…..

Things I am grateful for:

  1. I am grateful for Maketober last month. Though I was a bad blogger and did not post often enough to make it legitimate, it did push me to finally open my Etsy shop and I couldn’t be happier that I made this leap. It’s been a slow start, but my wonderful friend Knitting Up North honored me with a purchase the day I opened, and I’ve had nearly a sale a week since then (the little project pictured up top is for the shop). This could be the start of something wonderful (for me)!
  2. My son. Obviously! I never thought I’d want a child. But when I miscarried before becoming pregnant with my son, I realized I really did want one. And since the moment he was born, I’ve been grateful that I didn’t miss out on the true gift only a child can give you. Yes it’s tiring, frustrating, monumental, and all consuming, but to have him wrap his little arms around me and tell me I’m the best most beautiful mom in the world? Truly irreplaceable.
  3. My husband. Another no-brainer. But without this man, I’d be adrift. He is my best friend, my biggest fan, and everything I could possibly wish for in a partner.  I’m damn lucky and I know it.
  4. My home. I may ruminate at times that I don’t belong here, but I am certainly lucky that other people think I do.  With the bitterly cold winds blowing outside today, I am supremely grateful for my warm cup of coffee in my cozy dining room.
  5. My hands. Meaning, the fact that I can, and enjoy making things.  There are so many good things that stem from this small gift. I can cook for my family, I can knit for others, I can read, I can carry on traditions, I can fix things, I can open my own shop. The possibilities are endless.
  6. You. The person reading this, yes, you! Even if you stop for a moment and never visit again, it means so much to me that you did take that one second to look at a picture, or read a few words. A momentary connection, but a connection just the same. It’s so nice to feel a little less alone!

I could think of so many more, but six is a nice even number. My son always lists the same three: “My parents, My house, My dog.” I always tell him to get creative, try to think of something else, but maybe I shouldn’t. He’s kind of on to something there…..

Wishing all of you celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, a most joyous holiday filled with multitudes of things to be grateful for!

1

Violet Valentine is Open for Business on Etsy!

Violet-Valentine-Etsy-Banner


Hooray!  I finally did it!

After talking about it for years, I have finally opened an Etsy shop.  You can find Violet Valentine here.

I am still working out the bugs, but I have many sets of handmade stitch markers listed, a few notion pouches, and a few knitting bags.  I hope to keep adding to the inventory as I make things. The focus will be mainly knitting and crocheting accessories for right now, but I expect to add some new types of items in the not-so-distant future, as well as destash some of my knitted items or crafting supplies.  So check back often!

As always, thanks SO very much to everyone who stops, visits, comments, or otherwise supports me, the blog, and all my endeavors!  You have no idea how much your support means to me and how instrumental you have all been in helping me realize some of my creative dreams.  Infinite thanks to each and every one of you!!


violet-valentine-etsy-avatar