Thursday, February 28, 2008

Settle down

My little inner voice is telling me to slow down today. No more bunnies, no more owls, let the orange sweater sit--it will be there tomorrow. I've been kidding myself that I've really been resting as I should. I think that as long as my butt's parked on the bed I can tell everyone I really am taking it easy and I'll be better soon.


But my body knows the truth, and this restless search for the next thing to make, ways to increase my sales, when the next big show is and what is everyone else up to isn't getting me anywhere except keyed up. It's not even the direction I mean to take, or the underlying point to what my knitting is really all about.


Today is different for some reason. Like a horse that finally succumbs to the saddle or a child who quiets after a thirty minute tantrum, I've put away the yarn and needles, turned off the t.v. and picked up one of my favorite books that I re-read every few years because it's just that good.


The title is Dakota: A Spiritual Geography written by Kathleen Norris. In it she writes about her life in western South Dakota in such a poetic way that it draws me in and makes me want to book a trip. She doesn't sugar coat the hardships people face there, or paint a romantic, unrealistic picture. Rather she's quite frank and honest while still reverent, capturing it's physical beauty in a way that astounds me from a writer's perspective.


I didn't grow up in a small town like the one she describes in the book but now find myself living in one. Despite it's growth and newcomers/outsiders like myself, it still has much of the charm, character and social complexities of small town life. I bring this up because ever since I've been sick, it seems the much of the community knows. Even the kids wonderful, want-to-keep-her-forever bus driver was giving me tips this morning on what to do to get better.


Kevin and the kids went to church last night for Wednesday night supper and choir practice as per our usual routine. Kevin returned and said as he did last week, "everyone asked about you. I told them you were still wretched."


"Gee thanks" I said, "what do you mean everybody?"

"Everybody."

"Like who?"

"Everybody!" (forever resistant to elaboration)


This stirs up an uneasy feeling in me. While it's nice to be thought of and know that people are concerned, it's unsettling to a girl who finds it and more comfortable to fade into the background and observe, rather than be the subject of observation. But in a small church and a small town it's hard to hide, especially when you tow with you the whirlwind that is three young, exhuberant outgoing children everywhere you go.


I take no offense to being the subject of conversation, nor do I think anyone is speaking ill of me, at least if they are they're not saying anything to Kevin. I'm just somehow under the illusion that I can participate without being noticed, blend in with the crowd and escape when necessary. The strange dichotomy of wanting attention but being unsettled once I have it.


All this to say, gossip is the title of a chapter in Dakota and it's one that hasn't left my mind from the first time I read it years ago. I'll share my favorite excerpt here:


"Like the desert tales that monks have used for centuries as a basis for a theology and way of life, the tales of small-town gossip are often morally instructive, illustrating the ways ordinary people survive the worst that happens to them; or, conversely, the ways in which self-pity, anger, and despair can overwhelm and destroy them. Gossip is theology translated into experience. In it we hear great stories of conversion, like the drunk who truns his or her life around, as well as stories of failure. We can see that pride really does go before a fall, and that hope is essential. We watch closely those who retire, or who lose a spouse, lest they lose interest in living. When we gossip we are also praying, not only for them but for ourselves."


If she's right, if gossip is a form of prayer, I'll take all I can get.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meet Hoot




My crochet hooks were feeling neglected, what with all the bunny nonsense going on around here, so I decided to pick them up today. I've seen so many cute stuffed and sewn owls floating around on Etsy that I thought it'd be fun to crochet one and put my own spin on it. There's actually a real one that likes to hang out in the tree outside my son's bedroom. We hear him at night and I've even seen him there during the day. We'll call him Hoot. This one's for you, buddy.


He's a little guy, measuring about 4" wide by 4" tall. I think I should make a giant, pillow-sized one too, what do you think? The fabric from his eyes came from the cute dresses that my girls outgrow. The hot pink is actually a fine wale corduroy. I love being able to reuse these because the patterns are so pretty.


Bunny update: in talking with my test knitters it sounds like the bunny pattern is coming along nicely. One caveat, tail is optional based on personal preference. He doesn't have feet either, so it's your call. And I'd offer this owl pattern as well, but I know how averse you all are to crochet, so I won't push. I don't think it needs testing anyway.


Recognize the yarn Anne Margaret? Yep, it was in the bag of leftovers you gave me. So far that's one pair of socks, one bunny (haven't shown him yet) and now Hoot. I'm keeping track, don't worry.


I've been so happy to have the computer and knitting/crocheting to occupy me these past weeks. I've done some online exploring that I otherwise don't have time to do, especially with the persistent dial up problem. I've added myself to yahoo and flikr and really have no idea what I'm doing. Someone contacted me through flikr yesterday showing me some neat bags she makes, but I have no idea what to do with that information. I've joined yahoo groups and have my flikr photos with the other knitters in my etsy knitting group, but now what? I realized I've just hit the tip of the iceburg and don't know where to go from here. Trial and error is my biggest teacher, I guess it will take me a while to get it. Just like I'm still learning things about etsy and I've been there for over a year! My kids will probably have this stuff all figured out by the time they leave elementary school. Scary!


Wish I had good news of recovery to report, but I'd say I'm about 50% better with the mono issue, but I caught Allie's cold, so that's a little setback. I'm determined to take Allie to school tomorrow and see if I can go somewhere, even if it's a quick trip to Michaels or something, just to get out of the house.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Too much too soon

I'm not one to stay down for long, so I decided to test myself today with a trip in to Target. I won't bore you with the details but let's just say it was a bad decision complete with a minor meltdown by Allie and so I've resumed the position of rest I should have stayed in all day. Of course I ran into four women I know who I'm sure were thinking "go back home and keep your mono germs to yourself", so I did just that and don't intend to venture out again soon.


And the new attitude for today has as its focus all the things I can do rather than what I cannot. I find this always to be the best mindset, so I'm happily watching cooking shows (Ina Garten--Barefoot Contessa is my favorite), doing things on the computer I don't ususally think to do and am taking a minute to breathe and evaluate my business. Okay, I know that doesn't sound like complete rest, but I'm enjoying it.


Switching gears, I'd like to take a moment to send thanks to an etsy friend who wrote about me yesterday on her blog. If you have a minute please take a look and be sure to check out her beautiful shop of hand sewn creations. She uses wonderful fabrics and makes some bags and pillows that are hard to pass up. Thanks Kathi!


Last piece of business, I mentioned a bunny purse a while back and realized I never delivered. So Jill, this one's for you. Don't know if it's what you were picturing but as you may have realized I've got a thing for the applique and this bag hopefully doesn't dissapoint. It's all I can do to keep my girls from swiping it as their own.







Stay well everyone, Spring is on it's way!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I've fallen down the rabbit hole

Just call me Alice. I can't seem to stop knitting bunnies:







The top one is gray, I realize it may be hard to tell by the picture. The yarn I used is a heavier gauge than the cream colored ones. I had to see if it would work, and I like the results. These are about an inch taller and 1/2" wider than the original. They seemed to be crying out for floral so I added the applique. What do you think? To applique or not to applique? I'm still on the fence. The blue one is up in my etsy shop, so we'll see the response the public gives and I'll make my decision. Of course you're welcome to voice an opinion as well.


The test knitters are in place and are fired up to get started! (right ladies?) They've been given the option of either gauge yarn so we'll see what they come up with.


In the meantime I'm still here, alone in the house, kids gone, husband gone, everyone taken care of. If I didn't know better I'd start wondering if I was expendible around here. Kevin has done double duty as dad and mom these past two weeks and we've had so much help from friends and family with the kids, doing things with them and shuttling them from place to place that I've had ALOT of quiet time. But I'm happy to say, the worst of mono is over and I can feel the fog slowly begin to lift. My thinking is clearer, my thoughts are more energetic and I'm convinced it had everything to do with that pie.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm thinking the pie will help




Desperate times call for desperate measures. I don't usually snack on chocolate pie in the middle of the day, but when the urge hit I thought, who am I to deny my body what it's asking for? Something's gotta work. It's day #13 with mono (my calculations the past few days were off--I blame it on being sick) and there's no end in sight. My brain is so foggy that by lunchtime I can barely remember putting the kids on the bus or if I packed their lunches right or if everyone left the house with what they were supposed to.



But, not to worry, Karen! Your sweater is coming along nicely. I just can't resist playing with Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. I'm tempted to submit the pattern to Knitty for consideration, seeing as how I'm suddenly into writing my patterns down. The deadline for submissions for summer is March 1st, or just a week away, so I don't think I'll make that one. It'd probably be more appropriate for the Fall anyway and that deadline is June 2nd. If I decide to submit the pattern I can't show it on my blog first soooo, here's the only view you'll get for now:







And what blog post would be complete without including a shot of the kids decked out in last-minute-momhasbeensickfortwoweeks-homemade costumes for Famous American Day at school? Please take note of the crocheted beard (as promised) on Honest Abe.






And my sweet little Betsy Ross, clearly adoring her big brother.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

...and Flopsy and Mopsy...

Meet the rest of the family:




I made John's with brown eyes, the green looked a little weird. A darker green would have worked, but I didn't have one. Allie's is in the middle with the flyaway ears, a tribute to her sometimes unkempt and wild hair. The pattern is finished as well and is going to be handed off to some friends tonight for test knitting. Think they'll be done tomorrow? Kidding!


And just as I finish one little project, new yarn arrived on my doorstep today. This is 5 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas dyed organic cotton yarn from jimmy beans wool. Oooooh!







I've been commissioned by a friend to make the adult version of the little orange sweater with cream pockets you see at the top left corner of my blog. Except hers will have a fitted shape and will fall at more of a tunic length, with side slits at the bottom and probably wider straps to balance it all out. This is going to be fun.


Must leave the posting till tomorrow. It's Famous American Day at the kids school tomorrow and mommy still needs to come up with costumes for Abe Lincoln and Betsy Ross. Wish me luck and don't be surprised if you see a black crocheted beard on Abe!


mono update: day 11, still not right but better than yesterday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Here comes Peter Cottontail

I start each new creation the same way, with the same intentions, excitement and energy. Sometimes I BOMB and then other times everything seems to align properly and I end up with something I really love and have an attachment to. Such was the case with my little Easter bunny.





He purposely looks like he needs a hug. He's so soft. Even John let out an, "awwwww" when he saw him finished. This from a boy who thinks of almost nothing other than Star Wars, Legos and Star Wars Legos. All three kids want one for Easter, so I'm on my second one already. John's may have green eyes though since that's his favorite color.


Here comes the REALLY exciting part. I've been writing the pattern this second go around and am thinking of putting it up for sale in my etsy shop. So, I'm hereby asking my knitting friends (you know who you are) to test knit the pattern for me. Pam is helping me navigate the pdf format issue, since I'm technologically impaired, and once that's completed I can email the pattern. Just leave a comment or email me directly if you're interested.


The only requirement to be a test knitter is HONESTY! We're all friends here, so I need to know the knitty gritty. Was it easy to follow, correct, well-written? Any bugs? Any suggestions? etc. etc. And for all who are game, there will be a show and tell bunny parade upon completion. For more details you can click on the bunny picture in the sidebar to the left.


mono update: day 10, still feeling crappy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I've got company

Okay so maybe she's not all warm and fuzzy 24 hrs. a day, and I overlook the fact that she turns into a tazmanian devil when I try to give her allergy medicine or take her to the vet, but my little Betsey knows when you need her. During each of my three pregnancies she was always there, right when I turned around and anytime I sat she was ON my pregnant belly. They know, they just KNOW!





And I guess I'll forgive her for choosing the woodstove over me...I just lit it and she's in heaven.


I'm getting Easter in my head and will be previewing a little bunny purse I made soon, once my models get home and the wind dies down for pictures. In the meantime I'm envisioning a wistful little bunny, a bit solemn and dreamy. We'll see if the picture in my head matches what I can do with yarn. Here is it's beginnings on needles:





The creation of something new is a favorite time for me. The picture is in my head, but it also has a "feeling" attached to it. It's hard to explain, but more than the picture (because it's bound to change) I try to convey that feeling with my knitting. If I succeed, then every time I see what I've made I don't just see it I feel it too.

What's that? No, I'm not taking medication.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free pattern

Here it is, I know you've been waiting:

*tv, web, knit, collapse, tv, web, knit, collapse** repeat from * to ** until nightfall. go to sleep. wake up. repeat whole sequence. Shower and eat as needed.

Just a little mono humor, I am just not very well suited to doing nothing. A big THANK YOU to all the friends and family who have so generously pitched in to help with the kids, meals, etc. And to my wonderful husband who has taken over. Saturday morning after he'd fed the kids, started laundry, did dishes, cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed (all before 9 a.m.) I told him he made a great wife.

We are a pretty traditional family. I take care of all things domestic and involving the kids and he earns the living and takes care of all the "manly" tasks required to live where we live. But hats off to my MIL for teaching her boys how to clean! He's much better than I am I swear. I think it has to do with the fact that he actually likes it--where I always think life is too short to clean all the time.

No pictures to offer you today, I'll get back in the saddle soon. As always you can click on any of the pictures from my etsy shop to the left to see what I've been up to. In the meantime, comment and leave me the links to your blogs! I'm doing alot of that type of reading now, my arms are too tired to hold up books. :D

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Well no wonder

On this day of LOVE and all things romantic, irony has had it's way with me. I just found out I have MONO. So while the rest of you go out to dinner or have a lovely evening with your siginificant other, I will be in bed with the computer, a box of chocolates, piles of yarn and the March issue of Country Living Magazine.

No really, go on, have a great time, just wake me when it's over.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

She's crafty

Who remembers that Beastie Boys song, from the late 80's, was it? I don't think we're using crafty in the same sense. ha!



I've never really considered myself a "crafty" sort of girl. Then I found knitting and heard words come out of my mouth like "craft store", "crafting" and "craft show". My husband just laughs and says, "that's alot of craft talk for a girl who doesn't do crafts"!



For Valentine's Day I had a few requirements for the cards. First they had to be made out of what I already have at home. I can't go back to Target. Yesterday I wasn't sure I was going to make it across the store and back (I even considered taking a seat in the middle of the floor but decided against it). Then, they needed to be cute for the girls and not too cute or girly for the boys. I was out of inspiration and so I decided to try my hand at the idea Molly had over at the purl bee for crocheted valentines. I'm very happy with the way they turned out and now only have to add a personal note on each one. That and a little package of chocolates for each recipient and I'm callin' it done.








It's the perfect day for staying inside and I'm trying my best to figure out how to do just that. We went to sleep to rain last night and woke up to find it frozen and still raining. The kids had a two hour delay to the start of school, Allie is happy in her swimsuit and I'm indulging her in some cooking shows. So far so good on not going out to this:







This forsythia bush is right outside my kitchen window and this morning the bright red cardinals perched in it were a beautiful winter sight. I only wish I could have gotten a camera shot with them still there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh crap

I've been a bit under the weather the past few days and strangely enough can relate to my car:





I've even been too tired to knit or blog and that's getting pretty bad. Before this "whatever it is" ensued I indulged in some comfort knitting, you know, the knitter's version of comfort food. Simple but useful knitting is calming and I find the finished product appealing. There's no better face cloth than one that's been handmade as far as I'm concerned:




And as luck would have it I'm in charge of my daughter's Valentine's Day party at preschool tomorrow. This is 2 years in a row I've been sick for it, I swear I'm not signing up for Valentine's next year!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Heat wave

Is this happening at anyone else's house?






Yes, the week I decide to make socks (which I finished by the way) we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather, where it's actually O.K. to go barefoot:






I just love that shot of Allie. I remember the day when I realized I was too big to swing on the swings on my tummy. Very sad. Oh to be 4 again.


This afternoon brought a spur of the moment brush burning which always gets the kids excited. They gather up every little thing they can find and throw it on the fire. John especially. He's so hard to capture on camera. Constant motion.





And Lauren fell in love. Again. This sweet neighbor dog will come to play when he hears the kids outside. He's a frisbee lovin' dog and Lauren makes an irresistable companion. He follows her every move until she tires. Then she tries to make someone else play with him but they're not as interested as she. Finally we told her it was O.K. to just sit down and talk to him. She liked that idea. I'm not sure what they talked about, but you can be sure there was a conversation.



It's the simple days that are my favorites. Not the big events or the holidays, but just time together doing normal things where I try to soak it all up and never let any of it go.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

She made me do it

Thanks to fellow knitting addict and willing enabler, Pam, I can now include myself in the group of slightly obsessed folks who...knit...socks! Having no idea what I was getting myself into, I innocently accepted the "universal toe-up sock" pattern from Knitty, dug into the free bag of yarn scraps Anne Margaret gave me, found a complete skein of sock yarn, and got down to it.


You would have thought I'd knitted a room-size blanket after only finishing the first toe. Quite the triumph. Not because it was so difficult or time-consuming, but rather because it was so darn COOL! It brought me back to one of the basic reasons I love knitting, because you start with a simple string and with a little wrangling can turn it into anything.


Here's what I have so far,





Purdy, huh? Like little firecrackers on my feet! Having only one skein I wasn't sure how tall I'd be able to make them. These will be perfect with slippers or to sleep in. Yes, my feet are eternally cold. They love this soft soft wool.


I never quite understood the obsession with socks, or why anyone would want to knit with such a fine yarn on such tiny needles when other bigger projects could be finished much faster with bigger yarn and bigger needles. But now I get it. I even think knitting with tiny double-pointed needles is much easier than with big ones. They don't weigh much and the yarn doesn't slip as easily. I have pulled out the granny reading glasses though.


Just keep me away from the yarn stores, and especially the sock yarn, I'm feeling an urge to make about 10 pair! Lookout next Christmas, everyone's gettin' socks!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Homeplace




On mornings such as these I forget just for a moment who I am, the year, my circumstance, and quietly allow myself to be transported back to another time. I picture the cows that once grazed in the fields around our house and barn, I see tractors and horses a more permanent part of the landscape and I picture an aging Mrs. Webster who planted, cooked, fed and cared for children, grandchildren and an ailing husband all here. Right where I stand. I hear their whispers.



I feel so honored to be included in the legacy of this place. I pray for the strength and endurance to care well for this land and for a reminder to pause and take in all its beauty and stillness. As I stand here, on my front porch, I thank God for the new day, the eyes to see his creation and the gentle urging to appreciate it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Needle rhythm

This week I've been experiencing some "knitter's block", or at least that's what I think. Maybe it's not so much that there's been an actual block as much as a perception of one. I've stopped on multiple projects, not sure how or if to proceed. Here are the pictures to prove it.





1. headless bear, bunny, creature, what have you:






2. Partial double-breasted baby sweater made from the softest, pillowy-est polar fleece:







3. And of course another sundance sweater -- how many does this make?








Pros:


a. thumbs don't hurt as much from lack of use

b. more free time to focus on health and read books entitiled, "Restoring Your Digestive Health"

c. waaay too much blog reading

d. catching up on laundry

e. drooling over favorite yarn store websites: Rowan and Jimmy Beans Wool

f. going to bed multiple nights before 11:00

g. daydreaming and looking at practically every product in the health food store

h. going all the way downtown to get there

i. having a knit-night with Pam which was more about talking about yarn, socks, cats, sweaters, headless bears and restoring digestive health than knitting

j. experimenting on the family with new recipes. I'm 1 for 2

k. more time to breathe





Cons:



a. not getting stocked up on inventory for the Spring market season

b. wavering confidence

c. no sweater to wear





So all can do now is remind myself of the quote I ran across again the other day. Very popular, you know it. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" -- Lao-tzu





What helps you get your needle rhythm back? Or am I the only one who loses it?