Saturday, January 10, 2015

A new start

Well, last year was a total bust as far as writing goes.  I was way to involved in the real world to be part of the digital world.  Here are some of the highlights of 2014:

  • Last spring I took two classes instead of one.  One of the classes was Ornithology.  It was a great time and we went on 6 field trips. The other was Pilgrimages.  I added 3 places I'd like to visit to my bucket list.
  • Kelly had a baby boy!  Valerian joined our family in the spring.  He is a little sweetie.
  • Ethan and Baylor graduated from college.  I can't believe both my boys graduated the same week.  It was a very exciting week.
  • I went to South Carolina for a week of enjoying time with my sister, Laura.  My niece graduated high school so we (Lou and I) went to South Carolina for the party and  spent the rest of the week on the beach. 
  • Our 4H club got third place with our booth.  In my tenure as an advisor, we've never placed!  This year, we placed 3rd.
  • I got a lot of knitting done this year - knitting up about 15 completed projects.
Now looking forward to the goals for 2015.  I am a part of two challenges to (hopefully) get my numbers down.  One is a Stashdown project.  What is Stashdown?  It is buying less yarn than you use during the year.  Hopefully, but the end of the year, I'll have a negative change in my stash numbers.  I am starting out pretty well - using up (and staging some) several projects from stash.

The other is a WIP reduction challenge.  A WIP is a Work In Progress.  I am down to 10.  I cleaned up my stash and frogged 12 projects I will probably never finish.  I can repurpose the yarn to some other project that interests me. I haven't started any yet, but plan on choosing one on February 1.

I am also hoping to do some other crafting this year.  I hope its a good one.  I'll be posting photos of the items I complete.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A week goes by...

and life continues.  I have a lot going on at work.  Way too much. There is so much that needs caught up that I am not sure if it will happen.  I haven't done a lot of demographics in about 5 weeks and just because we are closed, doesn't mean people don't move, give birth, get married, etc.

Ethan will be leaving for school this weekend.  It was a nightmare, as he needed to have several THOUSAND dollars to go back because his Fall semester bill wasn't paid.  It would have been so much easier if we (Ethan and I) knew about it before Monday, but Steve didn't say anything until Monday. Oh, well, we have a small fix that will buy us some time.

So on to goals for the year.  None are really accomplished yet, but I have plans.  I was going to do a down and dirty cleaning in the living room last weekend, but got sucked into a project for Steve.  He has a 15 passenger van and wanted to build a bench to go between the front two seats.  He built it, but wanted a cushioned cover over it.  I was in charge of that part- and it HAD to be completed last weekend.  I spent most of Saturday designing one out of old blue jeans.  It came out pretty good, but it wasn't my plan for the day. 

What I have accomplished is some knitting.  I got one slipper done, one to go.  It will be glorious when it is felted.  I am working on the second one now.  I am also working on the Age of Brass and Steam shawl in Lion Brand Amazing.  It is a great set of colors- bright blues, oranges, fuschias.  It's so much fun to knit that I don't mind the miles of stockinette stitch. 

I am still reading The Book Thief and it is very good.  I almost have a hard time putting it down, it's so good.  I highly recommend it. 

Classes start on Monday and I am happy/scared/ excited all at the same time.  As I said, Ethan goes back to school over the weekend.  Baylor heads out for Tucson next week.  It will be me and the dogs again.  I'll miss my boys, but they are on the downhill slide of finishing school.  I hope it all goes well.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New starts and snowy days

So, here we are at a new year.  I love new starts - the opportunity to think about what you would change in your life.  If you could change anything about yourself, what would you choose?  To lose weight?  Organize? Purge? Quit procrastinating?  All of the above?  That is what I want to do.  I also want to be more grateful for all the things in my life.  One of my goals is to be grateful and try to seek out the good in life.

I am a naturally upbeat person.  Many think it's because I am uninformed, maybe even a bit daft.  Its just the way I am wired.  I could look at life and see things that are negative, but I chose not to - to look at the way things could be and the bright side of the event.  Oh, sure, I have times that I get down, overloaded, all too sad, but I don't stay there long.

Here are my two grateful things so far:

January 1
I am grateful for my friends that I can go and play with for an evening.  They got me out of the house yesterday before a snow storm and allowed me to enjoy some time without my family.  I love my family dearly, but just needed a break.

January 2
I am grateful for snow.  I love snow, even when it causes travel issues.  There is something very exciting about snowy weather.  The chance for a snow day always hides in the back of my mind.  I don't get them very often any more, but I still can dream.  Even when you are at work, there is a change in the air on a snowy day.  You feel like you live in a snow globe.

Knitting goal:
As always, I have goals for knitting.  This month I am finishing my Christmas gifts, hopefully before the 7th.  I am also working on the Age of Steam and Brass shawl.  It's an easy shawl so I am doing it in bright colors. I need to finish a WIP, but that remains to be seen.

Household goal:
I need to finish cleaning the living room this weekend.  Maybe even get the tree and some other decorations taken down.  I think I'll get another tote or two to be sure I have good ones for the Christmas stuff.  Maybe do some moving around - move yarn out of clear totes into colored ones, move Christmas stuff into clear totes.  I don't have much up that needs taken down, but do have a few things that need completed.

I would say that takes care of at least three areas of my life for my resolutions.  I need to look for text  books and see if renting would be cheaper than buying.  It would have to be significant to make it worth my time, but for now, I believe it's time for some ice cream.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Baby knitting

I don't know why, but lately I have been obsessed with baby knitting.  Maybe it's the idea that baby stuff is little.  You can knit a pair of booties in an evening.  Really.  OK, some of you may be saying 'yeah, right, I can't do that', but I can and I am sure you could do it in maybe two evenings.  To knit a pair of socks takes me significantly longer.  The only problem I have is that there are no babies to knit for currently.  My kids are in their early 20's.  It will probably be a few years before they even start considering having families of their own.  The only child I have that has kids won't talk to me, so I don't even know HOW to get knitted goodies to his children.

So, what should I do to solve my dilemma?  Well, I mentioned something about this dilemma tonight at Sit and Knit.  These people are GENIUS, I tell you!  I guess that is why I love them so much. Terri said I should go ahead and knit a few items.  Just tuck them away somewhere for future use.  She said once my kids start having kids of their own, it will all be at once.  This way, I can get a jump start on it and still solve that bit of an itch I have.

I know, why would I knit for a baby that I don't know the gender of yet?  Well, I used to make things for my kids before they were born and I didn't know their gender.  Added bonus - I love brights for babies.  There really is no 'gender' to brights and gem-tones - I am talking about lovely ruby reds, beautiful sapphire blues, rich emerald greens, the sunshine southwest feel of turquoise, all of it.  I love these colors. I am so excited, I cannot decide what to knit first. I believe it will be one of my goals for the year.  I'll try to knit one item (or two) a year so I can scratch my baby itch and get a few things made up for my future grandchildren.

What a great idea!  Thanks Terri!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day

We celebrated Labor Day in the way only we would do- with lots of labor.  Ethan and Baylor are both back at school, Ethan on Sunday and Baylor on Monday.  Steve was working all day and so was I.

Ethan had school on Monday, so he had to go back on Sunday to finish any homework.  Walkie, though, spent the night with Steve and I.  It was a lot of fun.  He's such a big goofy dog, but wouldn't let anyone hurt any of us.  He is just a big sweetie that loves spending time here on our farm.  He runs up to the barn, rides around with Steve and TJ, and overall just has a great time.  We are glad that Erika doesn't mind us keeping him occasionally.  He will probably come over at least once a week until Ethan gets bogged down in all of his school work.  Even then, he might be over.

Baylor left yesterday to go back to his internship.  There were some changes to the internship - not sure how it all works, but he's only getting 32 hours in per week.  He's trying to get another job to supplement his income.  Also, he may spend the spring semester in Tucson!  How exciting is that?  I need to try to get in touch with my cousin who lives out there.  It would be nice for him to get to know some more family members. 

Steve is working in the field.  Hopefully, we will get another cutting of hay before the season ends.  None of the row crops are ready for harvest yet, but they will be soon.  The beans are turning yellow and in some places will be ready in two or three weeks.  The corn ears are starting to drop and the stalks are browning nicely.  This week, the temps are in the 70's and low 80's dropping down to the 50's at night.  It is beautiful.

I took an extra day off work to get some things done.  Linda and I went together and bought the rights to a 10 yd roll off dumpster.  We have it for 10 days and I don't know how much more we'll be able to get into it.  I am hoping it sifts down a bit before next weekend because I have a lot of stuff I still want to put in it.  So far, though, I got to clean out my garage and got rid of a lot of stuff - old fold up chairs, lots of paper, plastics that are not recyclable, lots of stuff went out the door.  My goal is to actually park my car in the garage this winter.  I did a lot of purging and sorting so far.  I have another day of purging and sorting to go and then I'll put it all away!  I am going vertical to get a lot of this stuff up off the ground.  There is so much that needs to be organized, but now it's not as bad as it was.  I am so close to parking in the garage.  YEAH!!!! 

Some people consider January 1 as the time to set goals and start working towards something.  For me, the first of September always feels more like the time to do this reflection and goal setting.   I am already well on my way to actually completing one of my goals.  To keep the momentum going, I am writing down all  that I've completed.  It will keep me motivated.  Just a note in my planner of what was done when. I am hoping to get caught up on many things I've let go (knitting, cleaning, etc.).  I am really happy with all that I've accomplished and would like to do the same thing with the basement, but that will wait until after the holidays. 

Here is to goals.  I like that term so much better than resolutions.  Resolutions are made to be broken, goals are attainable.  What will yours be?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bad, bad blogger

Wow, I am a terrible blogger.  One of my goals for 2013 was to try to write at least twice a week.  I haven't written a word in 5 months! 

So here we are, at the end of August.  I glorious time it was, too.  Ethan was home all summer and was busy as can be.  He and his dad built a greenhouse and he sold vegetables at the farmer's markets all summer.  It was an interesting endeavor.  We still have tons of tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.  I need to figure out what to do with all of it.  I don't know if Ethan is going to come home from school and go to a few more markets or not. 

He didn't do it all on his own, though.  He had a lot of help.  Steve was really excited about the whole thing.  They traveled to Indiana, Michigan and other places to look at other greenhouses.  They've talked to other people, emailed, and facebooked.  Several of the local farm market owners helped Ethan with advice, ideas, etc. 

He went to State of the Plate in Champaign County.  He was very excited about that evening as he was introduced as the youngest producer at the market.  At the end of the season, he was asked to be on the board at the Mechanicsburg market.  I would say that is quite a compliment.

Baylor wasn't home all summer, but get home at the end of the fair.  He got to spend some time out there with his friends, which was great.  In his few short weeks home, he got to visit with his buddies, spent a lot of time with his girlfriend and I think he had a really great time. 

I haven't seen much of Kelly, since she works 10 PM - 7 AM.  By the time she is getting ready for work, I am winding down for the night.  Oh, well.

I've been busy working, knitting and having fun.  It was a wonderful summer. I'll try to be a better blogger and post more now that school has started again.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

This I believe

This week's assignment for class is to turn in a draft in the style of NPR's "This I believe".  I am writing on creativity, one of the things I truly believe is life affirming.  I wrote two.  The following is the one I am not turning in, because I need to read the report.  I would not be able to read this without having a very difficult time, so I went another direction. It just seems a shame that I won't turn it in, so I will use it here.  I'll be publishing that one after I edit it.

Anyway, here is my rejected because it is too emotional "This I believe":

Knitting – the word evokes images of grandmothers making those funky little slippers that no one really likes.  But for me, knitting is a creative outlet, a chance to unplug, to create and discover a hidden history of people from around the world, a chance to touch the past and the future.  Knitting has been my saving grace, my creative outlet, and my prayers.  Working the yarn back and forth on the needles has provided me with an opportunity to fill otherwise empty time.  I’ve searched it out in literature and in my everyday life.  

 When I first learned to knit, choices were limited.  There were the itchy scratchy acrylics of RedHeart,  the itchy scratchy wools, or the way-out-of-my price range luxury items – cashmere or angora.  Today there are myriad colors, handpainted yarns in colors the designer dreams, colors that you would never guess would go together, yet somehow form a tapestry of hues rivaled only by Mother Nature, tonals in different values of the same color, solids, heathers, the list goes on.  Lately I have enjoyed dyeing colors I see in nature – the Pokeweed colorway in rich blue-black purples, purplish-reds and greens ranging from olive to muddy reddish green, the Field Corn in deep yellow golds, tans and just a hint of the strawberry pink that imitates the cob. To get the colors, I go out and look – really closely look at the natural world. 

Once I have the colors I am looking for comes the pattern search – looking for the pattern that will accentuate the colors, yet allow the texture of knitting itself become apparent.  Will it look better as a lace, with the negative space accentuating the colors of the yarn?  A cable with its twisting winding road home?  Perhaps just a simple rib with the hills and valleys?  Sometimes plan knitting in stockinette or garter is the answer.  Sometimes even deciding what the yarn wants to be is difficult.  I’ve had several yarns that I have started in socks, only to tear it out and end up making a scarf, shawl or hat from.  Yarn designated for a hat for one son became a hat for another. 

You may think that with all this knitting, I would have lots of beautiful knitted items in my home, winter wearables to keep warm and cozy, my adult children wearing hats, gloves and scarves lovingly made by their mother.  You would be wrong.  Honestly, I am not about the finished product.  I am more interested in the process of knitting – the feel of the yarn through my fingers, each stich becoming a prayer for safety, for compassion, for needs of the recipient.  Watching the colors flow from one to the other or the play of light on specific fibers – silk’s shining face, merino’s warm bloom, alpaca’s ultra warm fuzziness.  I picture my sister and her grandchildren wrapped in a warm ivory shawl on a cold winter day – reading stories and laughing together.  I envision my son, hunting in the woods in his ‘lucky hunting hat’ – hunter orange with black deer knit in fair isle – keeping him safe and bringing him a big buck.   The lamb stuffed animal, reminiscent of the lambs we raised when we were young, that I was creating for my mother when she passed last spring sits on my work desk as though she is watching over me.

The amazing part is that all of these items – lace, cables, the shawl, the hat – all are created using two stitches , because that is all there is to knitting.  I’ve known people who tell me they cannot knit, it’s too complicated, takes too much time, they don’t have the patience.  To these people I saw no.  No, knitting isn’t complicated.  It takes time and some understanding of the language of knitting, but there are enough resources to explain. I always find it remarkable that people say they don’t have time to knit when they are doing the same thing I am – watching a sporting event, riding in a car, plane or bus, or enjoying time with friends at our county fair.  We are all doing the same thing, yet my hands are busy with a simple pattern, creating something to be enjoyed.  You don’t have patience to knit, you knit to learn patience.  In a world of immediate gratification, that can be a valuable lesson.  We don’t always have to have immediate satisfaction and sometimes the greatest joy in a life is the time it takes to create a work of beauty that takes a little time and effort.

As an adult, my fiber obsession has seen me through some very difficult times.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, knitting allowed me to have a connection to my past, since both my grandmothers knitted, and my future, creating items for my children, nieces, nephews.  When I spent hours of time in the hospital with my mother, we would sit and talk about what my latest project was and who it was for.  She would pet the yarn as she would a beloved pet, comforting us both – her with petting, my ticking off stitch after stitch.  When I am stressed to the point of breaking, I find myself looking for something new to start, something to jump start a positive flow in my life. 
The creative juices used to knit an item are very individual.  I love that even though I use the same pattern as hundreds of other people, my choice of color, yarn content, even the very way I knit creates a unique item that no one, even myself, can recreate exactly.  I believe this uniqueness is what draws me to knitting in a way that other crafts do not allow.  The portability allows me to bring items with me to work on in odd times- during my lunch hour, perhaps while waiting in line at the bank, if the pattern is pretty easy, while I am reading. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many men and women who share my passion, meeting to have lunch, go to events, just to sit together and knit and discuss what we are working on, where we got the yarn, what needles we enjoy, etc. etc.  Inevitably, I am allowed to glimpse in other’s lives by doing this simple craft, having people ask what I am doing, recollecting their mother, grandmother or aunt knitting.  I enjoy other creative outlets – music, cross stitch, beading – but none satisfy or allows me to talk to others quite like knitting.