4

Happy Craftentine’s Day!


For those of you who celebrate – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope your day is filled with lovely things like chocolate and flowers (or wine and knitting, if that’s your thing). I would have loved a day like this one that I’d clean forgotten about, but instead we are recovering from colds and all spread around the house doing our own things.  Ah well.  Some other year perhaps.

This year Uptown and I made valentines for his Kindergarten classmates.  In previous years I slaved away hand making valentines for his co-op preschool friends and Uptown was rarely interested in deciding what they should look like, much less involved in making them (2013, 2014 – no post, but we made these2015).  To be fair, “slaving” is hardly what I did.  I loved his co-op and all the folks we knew there and it was truly a labor of love to make fun gifts for all the kiddos (and often their siblings too!).  This year he has been so excited by the whole Perler business going on in our house that I thought he’d like to make fuse bead valentines for his class.  So I hit Pinterest hard core and looked for the perfect idea. After some discussion we settled on this pattern and this tag. By using glow-in-the-dark beads we combined a tag he liked with a pattern I thought was cute and easy for him to do.

He was into it – at first. But once I had all the supplies assembled (a week and a half early mind you!) and he realized he was actually going to have to make them himself, the light went out.  A week and a half of grousing, bad attitudes (on both our parts), pestering, lecturing, and whining (on both our parts) ensued, during which time only two valentines were actually completed. And then, as happens to even the best prepared moms (a group in which I am never included), we were slammed with a doozy of a cold. Two days before the class party and still only two valentines were ready.

So we suffered through it.  I cajoled and extolled the virtues of starting a project on time so “these things won’t happen”, he leaked boogers and sneezed virus everywhere while plopping teeny tiny beads on a little pegboard with feverish fingers. I’m the worst mama in the world.  But I was going to make him keep his word (he’d promised!) and I was NOT going to do it for him. We survived – barely. The valentines were made. But Uptown had to miss the party due to his fever. Was it worth it? I don’t know. Will I do it again? Hell no.  Next year we’re going to ruin the planet and buy some of those insipid, cheesy, impersonal paper valentines and he can write his name on them and be done with it.

I’m out.

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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 :)

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!

3

Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_1765

 

 Happy Valentine’s Day bloggy peeps!

Of course it wouldn’t be a true holiday if I didn’t create some kind of fiendishly stressful deadline for myself by deciding I needed to make a gift for everyone in Knittymunchkin’s preschool class.  And never mind how, in the spirit of love and kindness, Knittymunchkin asked me to include everyone’s siblings as well.  How could I possibly shy away from showing him how much fun giving can be just ’cause I’d rather be doing something much more glamorous than crocheting 25 heart pockets out of dishcloth cotton?  Just kidding.  You know I totally love doing it. Why else would I suddenly be wondering what the hell I’m going to do with myself when he goes to kindergarten and I can’t possibly expect to actually make gifts for each kid for each and every holiday.  Heaven forbid I find an actual household chore to accomplish with my free time!

We filled these little heart pockets with a mini bag of m&m’s and a paper valentine that Knittymunchkin had picked out a couple weeks earlier.  Leave it to my son to eschew the Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, and even Phineas & Ferb valentines in favor of cute puppies and kitties.  But that’s Knittymunchkin for ya.  I actually think it’s pretty sweet.  And many of the parents thanked us after the school party for including the siblings in our gifting.  I don’t know about Knittymunchkin, but I felt pretty warm and fuzzy spreading the love around this Valentine’s Day.

Hope you and everyone you love is having a wonderful day today too!!

5

Febru-Very

February was very:

 

Toothy…..

 

Knittymunchkin's 1st Dentist Appointment!

Knittymunchkin’s 1st Dentist Appointment!


 

Valentiney…..

 

Hand Knit Valentines for Knittymunchkin's Prescchool Friends

Hand Knit Valentines for Knittymunchkin’s Prescchool Friends


 

  • Pattern: Little Hearts by Teresa Fox (Ravelry link)
  • Yarn: Random ancient Hot Pink wool from stash & Scraps of Valley Yarns Stockbridge in “Deep Red”
  • Needles: Size 9, 32″ circs for Magic Loop
  • Comments: These came out super cute!  I feel a little guilty because I had the fun of making them and Knittymunchkin really wasn’t that involved, but he had absolutely no interest in making valentines this year.  I had him stick stickers to the gift tags we attached and that was about all I could convince him to do.  I figure his class is getting pretty sick of my hand knits by now, but I did get a very sweet photo e-mail from one of his classmates’ moms telling me that her son had been hugging his heart all day.  Awww!  Gave the teacher the lone red heart and the kids all got dark pink.  I didn’t felt them because I didn’t have time, but maybe next time I’ll give it a try.

 

Swappy……

 

Back in September, I joined a swap group on Ravelry called Ewe LaLa Swap, mainly because the first swap they set up was one in which you swapped a handmade project bag and a ball of yarn and I was hoping to sort of force myself to learn to sew a project bag.  It didn’t come out too badly (I used this free pattern) and my partner seemed to really like it.

 

My First Handmade Project Bag

My First Handmade Project Bag


 
This year I did the January-February Box of Color Swap in which our partner picked a color theme and it was our job to make and send them items to fit this theme.  I amassed a big collection of stuff to send, which was really fun.  But the best part was making some handknits for my partner.  Her colors were a combination of red/orange/pink/ and a little dash of purple (here at design-seeds – which, by the way, is so much fun to browse!).  Of course I went a little heavy on the pink and purple!
 
Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express


 

  • Pattern: Hogwarts Express by Susan Ashcroft (Ravelry link)
  • Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock  in “Blacklight”
  • Needles: Size 6 circ
  • Comments:  I love how this turned out!  One of the things I have always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to, is adding beads to my knitting.  It always seemed so intimidating, but I thought this would be the perfect way to try it out, as you only add beads to the “eyes” of the owls.  My swap partner loved all things owl, so this was the perfect choice.  It was a pretty speedy knit too, and I got to use some beautiful HK Artisan Sock from my stash.  The pattern was a little loosey-goosey for my taste and therefore a bit confusing for me at first, but I got it down eventually and this was a really pleasant knit.  I was actually tempted to make one for myself once I tried it on, but then reminded myself I don’t really “do” shawls (at least not yet) so it would just be silly to make one for myself.  The nice thing about swapping is getting to make things and then give them away!

 

I also made this for my swap partner:

 

Mosaic Pouch

Mosaic Pouch


 

  • Pattern: Mosaic Knitted Pouches by Kate Sharaf (Ravelry link)
  • Yarn: Noro Iro scraps in color #9 & random purple aran weight wool from stash
  • Needles: Size 7 & Size 9
  • Comments:  I am disgustingly pleased with myself for using random scrap stash yarn to make this.  It was a bit tedious to add the zipper and the lining and, in fact, getting up the resolve to do that portion of it took a lot longer than the actual knitting.  I had to seam one of the sides too and that kind of got me kerbobbled, until I actually did it.  And then I had to pat myself on the back for how easily I was able to match everything up.  Not too bad.  I hand sewed the lining and zipper in, figuring I could do a neater job by hand than with my machine.  I’m still a little zipper-phobic.  But it looked nice and it worked!  Bonus.  I almost (almost!) want to make some more of these….

 

Knit-Along-y:

 

Malabrigo Lace in "Continental"

Malabrigo Lace in “Continental”


 
On February 14th my friends Jess, Troy and I bravely began a laceweight sweater knitalong.  I’m knitting the Cloudette Cardigan with this lovely blue Malabrigo Laceweight that I have had in my stash for eons.  It’s actually going a lot faster than I’d expected, but I’ve had to put it down for a couple weeks because the purling is driving me bananas and I’ve been inadvertently pimped out to other knitting recipients by my Mom (more on that later).  I think I’m going to love this when I finally do finish it though!
 
And, as expected, March has come roaring in like the lion it’s supposed to be.  Meaning, I finally have an explanation for the bone-crushing weariness that has been plaguing me since November.  Yep.  I have a nasty little abscess hanging out next to my crown on tooth #30 and I gets to have me a big ole root canal on March 22.  Fun.  I hope this means I can expect March to go out like a lamb…..