Sunday, February 28, 2010

500...

This is not the post I envisioned writing to celebrate 500. But to be quite honest, life is a little crazy around here right now. If I waited to write this post until I had everything in proper party form you might not hear from me again until July! So I've decided to celebrate with TWO posts. (My blog, my rules.)

Part 1: Reflections...

It's hard for me to believe that this blog has made it to its 500th post! Reading the words of my first post I am amazed at how similar they are to what I might write today if THIS was my first post. Simply a wondering at how this journaling experiment might look in the days to come. I still wonder that at times...5 years later.

Over the years I've often wondered just what the purpose of this little spot should be. A mommy blog? A crafty blog? A place simply to share a bit of our lives with family and friends near and far? A place to share my personal thoughts, dreams, worries, rants? After all, shouldn't a blog have a specific purpose to justify it's existence? Shouldn't your readers know what to expect when they stop by for a visit?

Recently I got an email from an old friend. A friend who, though we might not keep in close contact now, has been there to help me celebrate some pretty amazing milestones in my life. Her email, with the subject Thanks For Your Blog, in part said this:

"I just wanted to take a moment to send you a note about your blog - a note of thanks. During the last couple of years as I have followed your blog, I have watched you navigate a path that included so many changes and challenges of significant proportion. Ironically, as I continued to keep up with your life, I ended up walking much of the same road.

Last year, [my husband] was laid off and our sense of perfect life collapsed like dominoes. As we all know, sometimes when it rains it pours and as a result we ended up enduring endless months of loss, change, panic, and struggle. While [we] faced the gravity of the situation, one of the things that helped me was your blog. It's the place where I saw survival, resolve, honesty, and hope. For that, I thank you."

Reading her words still brings tears to my eyes. Tears because my heart goes out to her and the hurt I know she is feeling. Tears because her thanks have touched me in more ways than I can even put into words. It was reading her words of thanks that I really realized that this blog doesn't HAVE to be about anything specifically. It CAN be about everything. It doesn't have to bring me fame or even contribute to our family's budget to justify the time I take to put posts together. It doesn't have to adhere to someone else's ideas and guidelines of what a blog SHOULD be. Because in the end this blog is MY spot and it should be about what I need it to be.

Besides free therapy (smile), I simply need it to be a avenue for connection. This blog is a snap shot of our lives. It helps me feel more connected to all of you...and I hope in a small way you feel the same. This spot is for the good, the challenging, the exciting, the milestones, the crazy, the average...it's all here. I am both amazed and thankful for those of you who take the time to read. To share our lives. To listen to me rant and worry and gush about the amazingness in my life.

I am thankful that it has helped me feel more connected to loved ones far away. I am thankful to have a place to share thoughts and feelings I might otherwise not vocalize. I am thankful for the connections I have made with total strangers, who I now call my friends. Friends who they themselves provide inspiration through the sharing of their lives. I am thankful for the memories that have been preserved here for our family. Memories that when pieced together creates the wonderfully rich, crazy, colorful fabric of our lives.

Whether you have read only a handful of posts or all 500...THANK YOU for reading. Thank you for sharing our lives. For leaving your thoughts and comments. A million times over, thank you!

Next up...Part 2: THE CELEBRATION!

Stay tuned!!!


peace

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lil Bits of Goodness...

  • I just finished my first of 9 weekends of a yoga teacher training program. It was grand. You can read more in my TT Diary here.
  • We ordered the girls bunk beds for their room. They arrived on Friday. The girls are sooOOoo excited. They have more room to play, spaces to call their own, and plenty of room under the frame for totes of books and Barbies. (The last detail mostly makes Mom excited.)
  • I won a blog give-a-way!!! I'm really looking forward petting my handspun yarn from Kate. She makes LOVELY yarn...and knitted things. Thanks Kate!!!
  • Yarnica came while I was gone this weekend! I realize I need to finish my lace scarf (soon...I only have enough yarn for 1 or 2 more pattern repeats), and continue working on my sweater, but I don't think I can resist casting on my mobius project today. I can't tell you anything more about it until later because it's a surprise for a reader of this here blog.
  • This here is my 499th post. Can you believe that? Seems crazy that I've rambled on and on that many time. This blog is BY FAR is the most successful journaling project I've ever attempted. And I am continually amazed that people keep reading. Thanks! I think it's only fitting that we should celebrate #500 with some give-a-way goodness. Stay tuned for the fun!

peace

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Italian Sweater...

For those of you who don't know me in "real life", let me start this post by telling you I have a bit of an obsession with all things Italian. My Great Grandmother (who is now in her late 90s and as sweet as sweet can be) immigrated to the US from Italy with her parents when she was a kid. And even though by blood my heritage is roughly 75% German and only 25% Italian, it is that Italian heritage with which I identify most. Probably because my Great Grandma Mary married an Italian, my Great Grandpa Pete who passed away when I was a tween, and many of our family traditions stem from their families. I'm sure it helps that my Great Grandma is the mother of my mother's mother...and us ladies if we are good at anything are good at carrying on with family traditions through the generations.

I love to hear my Mom talk about how when she was a kid she always knew when GG Pete was cursing or when he and GG Mary were having a discussion they didn't want the grand kids to understand because it was in Italian. We celebrate with Italian foods at the holidays. We drink wine. We go to mass. (I use "we" loosely here because "I" don't so much go to mass as the collective of the family.) Any who, it is to Italy where my thoughts travel when I think about ancestral roots.

So I pretty much KNEW it was fate when I started looking for yarn to take on knitting my first sweater and right away I found this lovely Italian superfine merino on closeout at WEBS! I knew I had to have it and the toughest part was deciding which "neutral" color to order. (Yep, my wardrobe is boringly neutral. But hey...it's not white or black so I consider this a step away from the norm even if it's a small step.)


I wish you could reach through the screen and squeeze that ball and see for yourself just how lovely it feels.

I'm using the February Lady Sweater by Flint Knits pattern as my guide. I say guide because well, I'm not totally following the pattern. (A fact that shocks you I'm sure considering how we have established my inability to just follow a pattern. We can discuss that later in therapy. Back to the sweater.) I had pictured in my head what I wanted to make and the February Lady Sweater was the closest I could find to that image...and it's a well written pattern that seemed to be allow for tweeking.

The pattern uses garter stitch through out the top portion of the sweater and for whatever reason, I'm just not a garter stitch fan. It seems bulky to me and the fineness of my yarn I think calls for something a little more delicate. So I'm knitting up the top portion with a seed stitch collar and button bands and stockinette throughout the yoke. After ripping out my original start to add a few more rows of seed stitch to the collar, and take a few columns out from the button band, I'm REALLY happy with how things are moving along.


I also plan to alter the sleeves from the original design. I'd like to make them elbow length, maintaining the stockinette stitch instead of switching to the gull lace, finishing them off with a buttoned band of seed stitch. I guess we will just have to wait to see how that plan goes.

I knit Scott's Turn a Square hat in part to get a feel for raglan increases knowing that a sweater was in my near future. (And I have no desire to knit anything at this point that requires any amount of hand seaming!) I just love how dainty the little raglan "seams" look.


A new skill that I've had to pick up for this sweater is the making of button holes. Talk about stressful! Not so much the process of making the holes, but more the process of deciding where they should be located knowing you can't move then later! I picked up a number of unique buttons on clearance at the quilt shop and can't wait to see which ones fit the overall feel of the sweater once it's finished.


My solid section (before the start of the gull lace) will be a bit longer than the original design too as I plan to have it end just UNDER my boobs rather than right across my boobs. The 3rd button will be located here and I'm hoping will help give the top a little snugger fit before giving away to the swingy section of lace.

I am a tiny bit concerned about the fit being as my gauge is off a little from what the listed in the pattern and I'm knitting the size that JUST fits my bust measurements. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how much of a difference those 2 stitches per 4 inches really make. Truth be told I'm at currently sitting at my "winter weight" so I could handle loosing a few pounds if I need to fit into the sweater. (Sometimes motivation comes from the strangest places.)

My poor lace scarf has taken a back seat to my sweater lately mainly because it takes too much concentration for me to be able to knit the lace pattern AND watch the Olympics. As you can see based on how much sweater progress I've been able to make this week we've been watching A LOT of Olympics. I mean how can you now? The Olympics ROCK!

The next question is: Can I finish both my lace scarf AND my Italian February Lady Sweater by our spring break trip at the end of March? Oh how I do hope so!!!


peace

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day Dreaming...

It happens often when I'm knitting. I get lost in the simply rhythm of working the needles. Of wrapping the yarn. Of adding to the fabric one stitch at a time. There is this magical moment when there are just enough stitched on the left needle waiting to be worked, and just the right about of space on the right needle into which you can slide new stitches that the process becomes totally free and natural and dreamy. An easy kind of mindfulness washes over me and at that time there exists nothing by the rhythm of the work. It's blissful...much like practicing yoga really.

Last night I was knitting along on my sweater (I know...I need to show you some pictures...soon, I promise) with the Olympics playing in the background. The girls and the hubby had been put to bed. In the quiet of the night I found myself totally lost in that magical rhythm. Then suddenly I "awoke" and I honestly had to remind myself that the events and conversations of the past few days were in fact reality and not a dream.

We...are moving. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around that concept. While our family has faced a lot of change in the past 2.5 years our home, our community, and (at least for the girls and I) our routines have stayed mostly constant. That is all about to change. In fact the only thing that will stay the same is the thing that normally has been the subject of change...Scott's job. I can't lie dear readers, I'm finding it all quite overwhelming.

Whether it's the arising of old demons from enduring many moves as a child or simply the characteristics of my personality shining through, anxiety has started to surface.

"If only we didn't have to sell the house."

"If only we didn't have so much debt."

"If only I didn't have to put myself out there in search of a new job for myself."

I have a lot of "If only..." scenarios dialoguing themselves out in my head. I'm trying to stay positive and project a sense of adventure for the sake of my girls who have already expressed some of their own worries and hesitations. Brea has been pretty open to this new undertaking and has started telling everyone we come across "We are moving to Des Moines to be closer to Titan Tire where Daddy works." Lexi, being an old soul and as cautious and sentimental as her mother, has approached the news with a few more tears and a bit more hesitation. Though to her credit she has already started to talk about having her own room in our new house and wonders what her new school will look like.

More than anything right now I know that it is all the unknowns that has my head a-whirl. Not knowing if our house will be easy to sell in the current market. Not knowing what type of income I will be able to secure. Not knowing if we'll need to consider childcare options. Not knowing what type of housing we will be able to find. And while we have a community in mind in which we are going to start our search for a new home, "the Des Moines metro area" is about as specific as I can get right now as to knowing where we will begin to grow new roots. I've been a part of the Grinnell community as long (almost longer) than any other community throughout my entire life. Pulling up roots here is not going to be an easy task. It's gonna take some shoveling.

Yesterday I started to go through the kitchen cupboards. Started the process of de-stashing the build-up of excess that occurs when you've inhabited a home for any length of time. On one hand it felt great to get rid of all that crap and clutter which has served no purpose other than taking up space in our cupboards. On the other hand I am saddened by the amount of excess our family has accumulated in the short span of 6 years. Brea and I made our first (of I'm sure what will be many) trip to Goodwill today. It was sorta freeing and therapeutic in its own way. I'm hoping that with each of those trips I can not only pass on the possessions which we no longer have use for, but also release some of the anxiety associated with the process. I guess it's ALL part of the process. The good, the bad, the tears, the excitement and the anxiety.

I'm thankful that through it all I know I have only to pick up my needles to find a little escape from the flurry of thoughts and worries. Thank goodness for my knitting!


peace

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Casual Romance...

A number of factors canceled Scott and I's date night last night. We really didn't have big plans anyway, not really being huge Valentine's Day celebrants. Instead of going out I enjoyed a special home cooked meal...


with my 3 loves...




(I'm so glad Lexi's upset tummy only resulted in the need to clean up puke ONCE during the morning and that she was well enough to eat a little something with us for dinner. And yes, the girls did still have their PJs on. Gotta love lazy Saturdays.)

Life is good.

Go hug somebody you love!


peace

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Facing Change...

Winter in Iowa has been a bitch. Needless to say as a result Scott's commute has also been a bitch. That combined with the fact he's found a position that he enjoys, that both takes advantage of his past experience and provides opportunity for new growth, in which he feels appreciated, and which has promise to be very long term, we have once again been visiting the idea of relocating closer to his office. A subject we have discussed on and off for the past 3 years through all the ups and downs of job losses, job searching, and new job starts.

This time the scales are starting to tip in a new direction. For once instead of feeling overwhelmed by the possibility of change, of starting over in a new community, of thinking how the move would change my professional endeavors, I'm feeling hopeful for the opportunities that could be presented by exploring a new adventure. We've started looking at potential communities online until the weather the weather clears up so we can go visit in person. We've started to think about what we would need to do to get our house ready to put on the market. We've started to talk about the ways having more time together each day, and less financial resources dedicated to transportation expenses, would positively affect our whole family.

I've started to think about how I CAN relocate and still do what I love. I DO have what it takes to build the business I want to continue to build even if it's in a new community. I simply need to have confidence in myself and what I have to offer professionally in a number of areas.

Dare I say I'm feeling a bit excited by the possibility of change. About the possibilities of what could be waiting for us on the other side of this transition. I think simply changing my attitude to focus on what could be gained with change (instead of what I don't want to let go of) has helped tremendously. I'm hoping I can continue to remain positive in the face of change in the coming months. And so the adventure begins...


peace

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Marie's Blog Party!

You know how I love talking about the cool connections I've made with other bloggers through the years?

Well today Marie over at Permission to Unwind is hosting a blog party for her BIRTHDAY! (I think it's cool she shares her birthday month with another of my very favorite crafty ladies...my Mom.) Stop over and wish her a fantabulous day. (You really should...she's serving cupcakes.)

PTU was one of the very first knitting focused blogs I started to follow. I pretty much think it was fate that brought me to Marie's URL. Without going into all the fascinating boring details, let me just give you a few examples of how alike Marie and I have discovered we are:
  • We're both in our mid-thirties.
  • We both married our high school sweet hearts when we were pretty young as far as today's average marriage age goes. Both our husband's names are Scott.
  • We both practice yoga, like talking about healthy foods, and dabble in crazy things like aromatherapy and the power of energies.
  • We both love coffee, knitting, sewing and have both worked in quilt shops.
  • We both have some gluten tolerance issues.
One of the reasons Marie's blog stuck out to me when I first read it (I mean besides the fact her writing is fun and she's one of those damn prolific knitters who seems to be able to turn out projects in less time than it will me to write this post) is that she was writing from a town in Western Nebraska only an hour and a half from where I grew up. A town we drive past on our way home every spring. A town in which I have played many high school volleyball/basketball games in a past life.

As is the case, I'm happy to report that come March Marie and I will no longer simply be electronic friends. We are planning a meet-up when the girls and I head to my Mom's over spring break. I'm way excited! I will admit that I am also a little nervous...I think Marie is one high energy gal (I mean she home-schools her 3 BOYS) and I am, well, a little more of a subdued being. I guess we can't be alike in every way.

Happy, happy Birthday Marie!

(Seriously, go visit her blog...you'll be glad you did!)


peace

Monday, February 8, 2010

Non-Standard Measurement...

Have you ever felt like maybe your not living up to your potential...and that your not even sure what the potential is? That for some reason you're having a hard time figuring out why finding long term contentment in life seems to be such a hard task?

The weather has turned frightful again and Scott decided to stay in DSM tonight rather than chance the snowy roads. This had been a LONG, snowy winter and being that it's only February 8th I know we have a few more weeks before we can breathe easy. I'm sure the stress of his commuting through it all has contributed greatly to my unease as of late. I often wonder WHY we don't just move closer to his job...after all, what the heck am I doing that is worth us staying here while he commutes? And for that matter I'm questioning WHAT I'm doing with my life.

Sometimes I think not really following "traditional" means to define the successfulness of our lives makes it hard to know what direction is the right direction to take when looking at potential new adventures. And that deciding to take a less than traditional approach to my professional life makes it that much more likely that I'll second guess decisions when things get a little rocky. And that while I'm kinda an entrepreneurial spirit, I'm not very good at taking risks...or knowing which are the right risks to take.

So many questions and thoughts. Feelings of uncertainty. The dark, cold of winter. It's all getting me down a bit on this cold snowy night. How many weeks until spring?


peace

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lace Update...

After a somewhat rocky start (it took 4 COs to get things headed in the right direction) progress is being made on my lace scarf that I'm knitting for the Adventures in Lace KAL.


I was a bit worried as I got started how the design would present itself as the hand-spun yarn is pretty irregular. I've come across some VERY thin spots and have a bit of worry that they will be weak links in the finished project. Fingers crossed that's not the case!

My favorite feature of the design is the side with the "pointy things".


Actually one of the reason I love this pattern is that it's not symmetrical across the width of the scarf.

Last night, after a few busy knitless days, I sat down with Scott to watch a movie and knit only to discover I had 1 too few stitches on my needle. Come to find out I had mistakenly repeated two rows and in the process somehow dropped a stitch...I think. It took me 2 hours to tink-knit-tink-knit-scratch my head and have anxiety filled flashes of frogging my progress to this point-knit-tink-knit before I got everything squared away so that things can continue on in proper fashion. Whew! That was a close one. Needless to say after starting this project I have even MORE respect for those who choose to knit those beautiful, intricate lace shawls.

In other knitting news...I started a new Facebook page for Grinnell area yarn lovers. Whether you crochet, knit, spin or weave, become a fan and connect with other Grinnell Yarnies. I hope to be posting an informal gathering invite soon!

Brunch has been made and cleared. The house is clean for our Super Bowl guests. The chili is in the crock-pot. Which leaves me to go enjoy my tea and work on my scarf. Have I mentioned how much I love Sundays?


peace

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shop Talk...

I thought maybe it would be nice to update you all on how things are going with my crafty shop project. Partially because I've received so many encouraging words since I let known my intentions and I've not been able to respond to everyone individually. (Sorry!!!) Partially because blogging about new adventures helps keep me accountable and make sense of all the random information flying through my head. (Didn't know your readership had such an important role in life, did ya?)

Where to begin?

As with any new undertaking, first things were all exciting and dreamy. I pictured myself dropping the kids off at school, grabbing a coffee at my favorite coffee shop, and spending my day at the shop surrounded by all things and people creatively inspiring. Quite a lovely picture of small town America bliss.

Then the reality of what it would REALLY take to get this adventure rolling set in and I started to feel MAJORLY overwhelmed. I've been up. I've been down. I've talked non-stop about my shop dreams at times...and kept completely quiet about where my thoughts were at others. I reached out to area resources (our Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development office, etc) and started networking with other small business owners. I've gone from thinking there's NO WAY IN HELL I could ever even consider opening shop to scaling back my dreams to more of (as my friend Monica tagged it) a garage business. And through the whole process I've tried to REALLY examine how I feel about all sorts of things that would/could be affected by such an undertaking.

I've thought A LOT about where exactly my passions lie. About what excites me creatively, professionally, personally. One of the realizations I've made (that I've almost been afraid to face) is that while I enjoy quilting/fabric/sewing, it doesn't excite me near as much as YARN! Admitting that almost feels as if I'm cheating on my fabric stash (and my growing pile of quilt blocks/tops in various stages of doneness) with a new, younger, very sexy lover. I feel like the black sheep in a flock of family and friends who are sewers/quilters...and who are WAY more productive with their quilt projects that I could ever see myself being. (And who are all super supportive of my knitting adventures so this is by no means a negative reflection on any of them! Kisses!) Really what I think I've come to realize is while I LOVE quilts, the process of quilting doesn't feed my soul the same way sitting down to knit has over the past year. Becoming a knitter has felt as natural to me as yoga did 11 years ago when I did my very first practice in my living room with the help of a VHS. (You know...those tape things that existed before DVD and Blue Ray.) And well, look where falling in love with yoga has taken my life. I find myself amassing a list of future knitting projects longer than any one person could ever tackle in a lifetime...only this new list somehow seems more "doable" than my quilting list EVER did.

All that to say, as I've looked at my potential new business plans what I've decided is that IF things ever move forward, it will be in the direction of opening a yarn shop. Period. No fabric or scrap booking supplies (as suggested to me by a local resource) or beads or embellishment products. Just yarn and knitting and crochet notions. A place for yarnies of all ages and years of experience. The one thing that hasn't changed through all of this exploration is knowing first and foremost that I want to create a space in which a community of creators can gather and grow together.

So where am I in the process right NOW? Well, things are on hold. Several parties have come forward to express interest in buying the quilt shop. For a variety of reasons I'm waiting to see what happens on that front. Financially right now is probably not really the right time for us to be thinking "new small business." As I do my research I'm still not sure HOW someone actually makes a living owning a small business. Right now I'm not sure I'm ready to devote the time that would be needed to get things up and running (and keep them running) which would take away from our already limited family time. We continue to examine how Scott's daily commute affects our lives (and the environment) and I think more than ever both of us are more open to accepting that a move closer to his employment may very well make more sense on a variety of levels. Moving forward with shop plans right now just doesn't feel right. So things are on hold.

That doesn't mean the dream is dead...or that I'm not going to continue to gather information and grow my small business knowledge base. Small business workshops will be attended. Networking will continue to happen. I will continue to broaden my understanding of the fiber world both for my own enjoyment and with a bit of an eye towards the business of it all. One never knows WHEN the right time will present itself in the coming years. When that time comes, I want to be ready to move forward.

And now you know the rest of the story...at least for now.


peace