Showing posts with label journal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journal. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Didn't we just have this conversation?

Two weeks. Not even two weeks after my last post, we suddenly lost another family member. True, this one was of the grandparent generation so we can at least comfort ourselves with a long life, well lived, but the fact that it was again on my husband's side of the family just two months after losing his brother.....well. That seems extra cruel.

I packed mindless knitting (and crochet!) for our back to back weekends of the 4 hour trek back to my husband's hometown. I've photographed none of the progress. I wound up a magic cake to put a lot of new rows on my granny stripe blanket. I pulled from the outside of the ball, and have worked all the way down to the middle. (Here's a head shake at the day to day debris on my end table - nail clippers, as I use TV as a distraction technique, random foam rocket thing that does NOT go in our mouths, hat pattern that I referred to so long ago I can't even remember, crochet hook from a potholder loom that hasn't been worked on in weeks but I can't decide where to store so it won't get lost. The wine though, is fresh.) It's more than doubled in length from this before picture. I'll get around to snapping a picture one day to show you.

I don't want to dwell too much on this "real life" stuff. It feels crass to talk about on a knitting blog. It's life, however, and it's a lot of what's been going on. Prepare yourself for a fascinating transition (dammit!) as I abruptly change the subject.

Did I ever mention that I moved my spinning wheel to my bedroom rather than my sewing room? I feel like maybe I have. Now I see it daily, and even take a moment to spin on it now and then. I have those six balls of natural colored wool that I'm working through, two each of three colors. I'm....halfway through the second one. I should be ready to knit with it in forty years. (the top two bobbins on the side of the wheel are from the spinning technique class I took this summer, and are layers of random colors and weights and practicing.. Maybe when I finish this ball of wool, I'll chain ply them up. I'm not sure for what. Maybe a weaving? Not knitting.)

I have some grand plans to sew more of my clothes. (I'm ignoring the quilt I posted about last time because it misbehaved and irritated me. I'll get back there, maybe do a row or two after this project. By then I'm sure clothing will irritate me if it doesn't work out and I'll want something straight line!) I've been making several items over the past year and some have been ok, but many have been juuuuust off. I'm working through it, and trying to figure out what holes in my wardrobe I'd actually like to fill and not just what's pretty. I bought a couple patterns and a whole stack of basic and boring  but infinitely wearable gray, black, and white fabric at Joann's a couple of weeks ago, and I'm working through a wearable (lord, I hope wearable) muslin with some old fabric. It's taking me forever though. Forever in terms of start to finish, not in actual sewing. That doesn't take too long, it's just the getting to it that's the sticking point. I completed the cutting one day, and assembled it this far another weekend. I think one more weekend session should be enough to attach the sleeves and do the buttonholes, and then it's done! It looks huge. I cut the size according to measurements, hoping that Burda didn't run quiiiite as large as other brands.....but I'm not sure. I tried it on before attaching the collar and button bands (this is my first collar stand, I'm rather proud!), and it was a bit oversized but ok. I'm in a bit of a loose fitting place in my life, so it may potentially be ok. I also bought some stretch denim because it was on sale....and may someday attempt pants. I'm going to need a win on this shirt though first I think.

I went to the Knitting Pipeline retreat for the second time just last weekend. I took no pictures. I re-installed instagram on my phone to follow back a couple of new friends, but honestly, being out of the social media game for just a month has really atrophied already weak photography skills. Or at least the habit of taking very many photos. I did finish a pair of socks on the way there (not pictured....), and commenced ripping this pair out.

I decided that I really did hate the way they fit, just too short in the foot, not quite tall enough, and I didn't like the way I color blocked them. They were a total pain to rip out, and are sort of a pain to reknit as the yarn is all kinky from being washed and worn a couple times. I'm doing 1 row stripes for a few rows between each color, and I'm liking the effect much more. I left the toe and 2/3 of the purple intact, and am starting the gusset increases again. I'm going to stripe the purple heels in the body of the sock and use plain white for the heels, which should give me the additional length I wanted without going in for more yarn. Of course, I have no picture for you. I should start making a list of all the things I'd meant to photograph but didn't. Next post, my friends, next post. (I'd leave this post as a draft and add them in here, but then I'm unlikely to ever finish or publish this random stream of thoughts....and wouldn't the world just be emptier without it lol)

At least the knitting I did on my socks was time well spent. I put another 6 or so squares on my sock yarn blanket to square it off (actually pictured earlier in the post....but of course the before), and I thought, surely I can work through the three inches of ribbing at the bottom of my cardigan fronts. That's mindless, surely I can do that. (I finished the back by the way. Did I photograph it? Just guess....don't worry, I'll wait....)

Did you see it? Did you notice how the picture shows a cable panel at the front edges......and how my knitting totally DOES NOT?

I salvaged the cast on and the first two or three rows of ribbing. I decided I liked it, and then I started the cable pattern. I had stopped knitting where I did at the retreat itself because I didn't think I could concentrate on the one row buttonhole. (which I probably couldn't have, given the grave error ripped out above.) The pattern calls for actually cutting the buttonholes in afterward, but I didn't want to do that, and several other knitters have also used this technique so I felt pretty good about it.

You know what you DON'T need? Buttonholes on BOTH sides of the band.

At least I noticed it after just one row. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winter is hard

Winter is hard. It just is. It is every year, and I don't know why I'm caught off guard every time it happens, but I always am, even when I think I've prepared. it even because of winter? As I skim through the photos randomly pulled to think about writing a blog post, I come across one from October that I never got around to, when the weather was less depressing.

These are the gently rolling hills from the back of the Kinney property, where D and I spent a long weekend celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.

Perhaps it's just been a hard year. While things were looking up for me last spring, with the start of a new job that I really enjoy, we lost my uncle far too young after a brief illness in August. Hot on the heels of that senseless loss, we got word that my husband's brother was also unwell...and nearly 20 years younger. The weekend of that photo above, we heard that he basically was not going to get better. How does one family lose two people so young in just a few short months?

We continued what now feels like a theme of celebration slammed right up against sadness and pain, as I turned 35 the day before the memorial service. I've never been one to get all that excited about my birthday. It comes at the start of the cold weather and the holiday season. On one hand, it could be sort of magical, the kick off to festivities. It's always made me feel sort of down. Back in college, it always fell right during finals. In fact, my own father was late to my birth thanks to an exam! And now it just feels like one more thing that people - including me - don't have time or money or energy to celebrate, which Christmas coming for the kids, and holiday parties and family commitments. I don't want to make a big deal about it, but I want to want to, and I don't, and that makes the whole thing feel like a let down. Self fulfilling prophecy. Most years of late it's been ok, as I've prioritized just relaxing and having a nice dinner at home with my family, and maybe a day or a couple hours to spoil myself with a massage or manicure or something. This year though, it was caught up in the sea of general upheaval. We still did get together with family, and I thought that the cake my in-laws picked up for me was very cute. It was just different. I don't like different. I also feel so stupid even feeling anything about it in light of the REASON things were different, because it makes me feel like a spoiled child. Perhaps now that I've said it "out loud," I really can just shrug my shoulders and let it go emotionally, as I already have mentally.

Speaking of shrugging my shoulders, it's only recently that I've been able to accomplish that skill again. I'd felt it coming on for awhile, and tried to stave it off with yoga and stretching, but all the stress of the past few months must have just been too much, and I suffered an attack of pinched nerves in my neck and shoulders just a few days before Christmas. It happens every so often for me over the past 5 years, just debilitating pain that comes on for no reason. Well, no ONE reason, some injury I can definitively point to and think, well don't do THAT again and you'll be fine! No, it seems like I physically store my stress in my shoulders, and once or twice a year, it builds up and my body just screams at me to stop. It accomplishes this by making it so that I basically can't move at all without intense pain shooting down my back and arms if I try to turn my head, so it's a pretty effective move, body. This round was one of the worst I've had, taking 3 trips to the chiropractor to regain normal, more or less pain free mobility. Again, I haaaate feeling like such a whiner, but it really ruined Christmas for me this year. I'd luckily finished my shopping the previous weekend, but wrapping gifts was quite painful. Baking cookies with my family exacerbated the pain, and made it much worse than it was after chiropractic adjustment number two, and I couldn't get back for adjustment number three for four more days due to the timing of the holiday. I have a much greater sympathy for people with real chronic pain syndromes. It is hard to enjoy ANYTHING when your body is betraying you. I've recovered since, and have finally taken my chiropractor's advice to begin a maintenance program. I'll start out seeing him monthly and see how it goes from there.

Throughout, there has been knitting. I've mentioned in my podcast - (my podcast. I'm so not in the mood for my podcast right now. I was too nervous when I started it to start a Ravelry group, like so many people do. not doing that, I don't feel like anyone is actually listening. I love consuming podcasts, but they really are a very one-directional way to share. Even though people don't really comment on blogs or youtube anymore, it's still easier to leave a comment there, or on Instagram of course, than it is on an audio podcast. It's not impossible to send someone an email, or go to the show notes and comment there....but it's that one additional barrier step that stops me from doing things like that for the people that I listen to but don't comment on. It's not a huge amount of effort, but it's just enough to make me not do it. Anyway, let's let that lie there for a minute.) - as I said, I mentioned in my podcast that there was going to be a lot of knitting time. My in-laws live about a 4 hour drive from us, and D and I made the trip down to visit his brother three times I think. I also knitted while we were there. He wasn't in much state to actually visit with us toward the end. I was so grateful to have something to do with my hands, something to distract me from the situation. I finished the cowl the day he passed. I'm glad that I didn't choose projects specifically for this waiting time. It would be too difficult to ever use them. Now it's just something that was on the list. There is sadness woven into the stitches, but there is still happiness and love for the person I was making it for. It's life.

Blessedly, it's 2018 now. After the shitpile at the end of 2017, I have been more on board with actively turning over the new year than I think I ever have before. I have wanted to knit a traditional cabled sweater since we went to Ireland in 2011. I purchased this yarn, Imperial Yarn, in sport weight, in 2015 at a local yarn store. I selected the pattern while I was working on my Calligraphy Cardigan, the brown one above. The pattern came to me by way of someone destashing a collection of vintage (it's from 1981, I think that's vintage now. It's A vintage.) patterns that were in turn I think destashed from a public library? Maybe an estate. I'm not sure. It's marked down from $3.00 to 10 cents on the cover. It's deliciously complex, but fairly simple and rhythmic now that I'm 11" in to the back panel. The pattern calls for knitting to 13" before beginning armhole shaping. I think I'll add maybe 2".

 I've decided to take a break from social media. I sort of wish I'd added it to my New Year's Resolutions. I actually made some this year. I've been keeping track of them through an app called Strides. I think it will be helpful to have them popping up on my phone so that I can't lose track of them. I've flossed my teeth all but one day so far this year. I tracked down a 5 year journal, the kind that you write a couple of lines each day, and then when the day comes around again the following year, you get basically an analog timehop to see what you were up to this time last year. I wanted to - and tried to - purchase it locally but struck out. Amazon Prime ended up coming through on New Year's Eve. I've been adding the temperature. It's so cold, it seems notable. I've also been adding a smiley face to sort of track my mood. I'd like to be more patient, more zen. I don't want to see a bunch of frowns, so it's helping me consciously try to be kinder. To myself. To everyone. At least I'm trying. My mom said to be careful not to write negative things. No one wants to remember that, or be remembered for it. We're all in sort of a legacy place right now. Leave a good one. I'm trying to be honest but I agree. I don't want to complain. 35 seemed like a really good place to start a 5 year journal. I wanted to start at 30....but I was too tired. I knew I wouldn't keep it up, and that would be disappointing. Journaling is one of my goals. I've made it every day so far. That's.....1/24th of the year.

Consciously or subconsciously, I am leaning toward putting things together. I tried patching a pair of tights that I really like, but blew a hole in them again immediately. I think I need to put something behind the stitches, not just try to stitch them back together. I wonder what you patch tights with? I patched some kid pants with some beyond busted husband jeans that have been hanging out in my fabric stash for a couple of years. They seem to go in waves. He busted a bunch of work around the house jeans all at once, and I patched what I could with the ones that were farther gone. Now they are passing down and patching kid pants. She grows so fast and has so few pants that fit, I thought I'd see if we can get some more wear out of them. On the plus side, she's more excited about the patched pants than her regular uniform pants. Hopefully these still fall into "uniform." It's a rather hippy, crunchy school, so I hope that the make do and mend method outweighs the color code. I have one more pair on the mending pile, but the first pair made it back out of the laundry and off to school today. I hope they hold up.

 While I went and bought myself a serger for my birthday / Christmas, and I've used it a bit, I'm drawn to the idea of making a quilt at the moment. I made myself a top on the serger, and I liked it until I washed it. I'm not sure if it was my technique, and the fact that I manhandled the neckline after inserting it backward, of course, or if it was the super lightweight knit, but it didn't wash well. So that was discouraging. I made a couple kid tops, which would have gone quickly had I not had the massive neck injury in the middle. I finished them a week or so ago, selected sizes based on measurements. The big one is huge, and the little one fits the big kid. I'm going to see how they wash up, and if it goes well then I'll make a smaller one for the little kid, and set the biggest one aside for a couple years. Like I said, they grow fast. If it doesn't go well, well I have a queen size quilt to distract me. I have 2 yards each of the prints, and about 1.5 yards of the gray. I think I'm going to use up nearly every scrap, including piecing a couple of the solid gray and the white triangles. I cut one of the white strips a little crooked, so I may need to stretch what I do have. I'm still thinking it might be a smidge smaller than I wanted. When I get to the end, I'll lay it out over the batting and see if I want to add some border strips. I'm going to use a flat gray sheet for the backing, left from a set of our sheets where the fitted one ripped. I probably shouldn't wear my rings to bed. This isn't the first time they've ripped right there, right under where I tuck my hands under my chest when I lay on my stomach, a posture that is absolutely terrible for my neck but is sometimes the only way I can get to sleep. I think I'll want to quilt this on my home machine. I can't stomach the cost of sending it out, just a quilt for us here at home, nothing fancy. I heard the Yarn Hoarder mention on her podcast that she has a local shop that she can take classes on, and then rent time on the machine hourly. I wonder if we have something like that near me. That would be cool. And a bit easier I'd imagine.

2018. This will be a year of yoga 3x a week, daily journaling, flossing, making the bed, and working on getting out of the house on time. This is a year of biting into big, involved projects. This is a year (well, a first quarter) of deciding if we are going to officially sign something and build a new house this year. This will be a year of peace, kindness to myself, my loved ones. Cultivate the relationships I have, and don't feel envious of the ones I don't. I hope this is a year that ends with as many, or more, loved ones than we started with. Let's all take care of ourselves, ok?

I'm leaving those twinkly lights up until daylight conditions improve. :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Routine

Well suddenly it's been a minute, hasn't it? I wrote in my last post that I was making a move, and I in some ways I've been in motion since!

I started a new job on May 1, and it feels like it was a good move. It's simultaneously familiar and new, but it feels like I've got my feet under me now. I'm getting to know people - it helps that there seems to be an abundance of social opportunities. I wonder if that's just how it is, or just because it's summer? Time will tell, obviously. I feel like they are getting to know me too, getting familiar with my skill set, and where I want to go. People seem to have the ability - for real, not just for lip service - to choose their own adventure. I've been in my career field for...10 years now, and I feel like this is the first time that I can say, hey, I'd love to try THAT, and actually be given the opportunity to learn that skill. It must be some combination of the culture here as well as this point in my own development - that I can see what I'd like to do, the humility to admit that it's something I need to learn, and the courage to ask for the opportunity. It's a good place to be, all in all.

And there's a roof deck. Win.

I've had a bit of a summer fitness kick, which was unexpected. Seems more like a new year's resolution thing, which I didn't even bother making this year because I so seldom put any effort into them. We've been doing some family bike rides, and I've been working up my courage to do a charity ride for work (the shortest distance option, if that's even possible!). I have until August 2 to sign up....I'd like to do at least one more 20 mile ride beforehand just to make sure I can really do it. The options are 20, 35, 70, and 103 miles. One huuuundred miles. So much no. I've only done one 25 mile distance so far this summer (possibly for the first time ever? I'm really bad at biking. We lived near busy roads when I was growing up and we were only allowed to ride in our cul-de-sac....which was boring and there was gravel at one turn where we would always wipe out, so I didn't ride much), but it wasn't all in one shot. Timing wise, that leaves me just this weekend to try to do it. We don't have anything on the calendar, so if the weather turns's actually possible to give it a shot. I even mapped out a route. Perspective is funny. I'm sure tons of people wouldn't even think to practice for a 20 mile ride, but it's really far for me. Typically any time I sign up for a fitness thing, I don't bother to train either, but it's out of laziness, not belief that I don't need to. I really regret it halfway through!

This year though, I might get strong. I've been going to yoga too. A perk of my old job was weekly yoga classes, and I'd missed that. I was going to just buy a 10 pack of classes as my mother's day present, but they were running a sale for 3 months unlimited.....I ran the math on it, and it balanced out if I went 2x a week, so I went for it. Actually all but last week I've made it 3x a week. Usually just lunch classes, but I've been doing the early class on Wednesdays fairly regularly. We've been using the roof deck of the building, and it's a pretty refreshing way to greet the day.  Not a chance though will I continue once my 3 months is up in September. I can't justify the cost of continuing at that rate unless I hit another special, but I've got time to think about what I want to do. I'd like to just work out at home, but I suck at it. Just too many distractions, responsibilities, demands on my attention, couches... I can definitely tell that I've increased strength wise in both yoga and biking compared to my baseline, but overall I'm still pretty soft. We love watching American Ninja Warrior (so random). I tried crossing the monkey bars yesterday. Instant blister and I couldn't even go 2 rungs. Those ninjas just fling their bodies around and do pullups like it's nothing. So weird how watching it on tv hasn't transferred actual ability to me....

Roof yoga view

In sad knitting news, my fave LYS shut their doors this summer. I feel so adrift without my place to hang. The groups have continued meeting, though it hasn't worked out much with my schedule this summer. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to hook back up with them this fall on a more regular basis. I've still been knitting, super monogamously on the exact same 3 things lol. Last time I was around here I think I was working on my cabled cowl, something that's been on my list for me for yeeears. I finished that in early May, right after I started my job. Since then, I've consistently had 3 things on my needles - a pair of socks for purse knitting, a "big" project for at home, and secret knitting for after the kids go to bed which is my REAL "big" project.

cowl, ends still not woven in, buttons still not purchased....I've got time before winter...


For socks, I worked on and finished a pair of Rose City Rollers (the biggest size of the littles, after knitting almost an entire pair of the second biggest size and deciding it was too small). It was my first time using Trekking. I liked it! The yarn didn't stripe, but it didn't pool either, so that was good. It tolerated being ripped back pretty well, but it has gotten rather fuzzy. That could come from being worn nonstop for about 72 hours after they were finished, but that's considered high praise as it was the hottest it's been all summer at that time.

I finished those on June 21, and rather than casting on the next sock club suggestion, I picked back up my zigzagulars that I'd set down months ago. I started them back in February, but only got through the cuff and the first or second zig or zag. Come to think of it, that yarn had been ripped out too. It started life as a more heavily patterned sock, the Tornados I think. This pattern is a much better fit, and it's holding up just fine, as you'd expect from Regia. The contrast cuff is Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury sock. It seems like it will be really hard wearing, which is good as I plan to use it for heels and toes as well. It's one of the things I stocked up on when Wild Haven closed. I definitely had mixed feelings about that - on the one hand, you don't want to pass up a good deal, and it would benefit Kate more to have the cash than the yarn sitting around after the shop closed. But on the other, it just feels icky to be getting a good deal at the expense of your friend. I tell myself that I was a regular, if not high volume because I certainly don't NEED a lot, customer before the closing sale, and that I'd planned to just buy it as I needed it....but still the mixed feelings. Anyway. So those are my socks of the moment. I got down the leg to the heel in the car yesterday. I'd have started it, but I'd forgotten to pop that contrast yarn in my project bag. I'd rather knit than not knit (I'd have slept had it been quiet, but alas it was loud. Also my driver was quite sleepy, so better to be an alert pair of eyes) so the legs may be an inch or so longer than they'd have been otherwise. Now the contrast yarn is on board for the next time I find myself with time.

I cast on my "big" project right after the cowl, on May 14. A year or so late, I jumped on the Fade bandwagon. I've got 2 of Kate's Wild Haven yarns in there (one knit, one still to come). I've got the yarn specially dyed up for sock club that I didn't want to "waste" on "just socks," a sweet georgia color (that's the one I'm on now, color 4 of 7) also from Wild Haven (see self! Regular customer!), and a Leading Men Fiber Arts and a Madelinetosh that I got at the Knitting Pipeline Retreat. (I never told you about this, I guess it was in my break back in February? It was my first retreat, it was lovely, I hope to go again next year.) That's only 6 colors....I must be missing one. Oh, I see, as I check my project page - I guess I have 2 Leading Men colorways in there. All of the colors are super neutral, gray and white and purple, but light purple. Since it will be so huge, I'm hopeful that it will be versatile enough to wear with everything. If not, I guess it's a big at home blanket. I didn't stash bust for this project, as I'm not really a collector of the special skeins. Most of these were purchased with this project in mind over 6 months or so. (Better to spread it out, and to never calculate the sticker price.) I'll have leftovers, so I'm going to put a row of squares all in a row in my sock yarn blanket, and then knit a fade pair of socks with probably the rest, depending how much there is.

Ok, and then my REAL big project is a pair of Phoebe dresses from the Joanna Johnson book Phoebe's Birthday. I'm sure I've talked about the Phoebe mouse dolls and sweaters that I've made from another of her books, Phoebe's Sweater. Those dolls have been such a big hit at our house, so I hope these are loved as well. I have less than a month to finish, but I think I'm on track. I knit the first one (the smaller, darn. I was hoping it would be the big one (it's the size 4), but as it turns out it will be the smaller of the two) in just over a month. I've been working on the bigger (size 6) for exactly one month now. It's bottom up, and I've finished the waist decreases. I figure I should have the bodice finished this week, and then another week or two for the flounce.

After that (so we're getting into future knitting now, I guess), I want to make a little hat for a friend's first baby, and then the Fade will probably move into primary "big" project status. Come to think of it....the hat COULD supplant the socks as purse knitting and therefore arrive a little faster. That may be a good idea, because babies come whenever they want. Note to self. *Pause on heels, cast on hat.* Ok, so THEN when that's all finished....well then I'm not sure. A sweater, I think. I have several sweaters' quantities. I should let some of them grow up to be sweaters. I have a list in my queue. I'll have to see what moves me when I get there.

So also, because there's also, because it's been months since I wrote a darn thing, I think I'm nearing the finish line of a spinning project that's been sitting nearly finished for months. I didn't keep good track, but I think I started spinning it a literal year ago. I got a lot done in one shot, and since then every time I tried to spin it, my singles got too thin and it would snap, I'd get frustrated, and let it sit a couple more months. The Tour de Fleece is going on right now though (the fiber people's play on Tour de France....because both "spin," haha), so that inspired me not to "compete", but just to finish this one project! I missed the end of the tour, but it's fully spun, and maybe half plied now, so that's a win I think.

Finally, I sewed a bunch of stuff. My friend Meagan and I road tripped down to Vogue Fabrics in Illinois one day while I was on a mini vacation between jobs, and it really inspired me. I'll maybe do a separate post on what I've sewn, but maybe not because that would require effort and photography. (I will say that I've worn every single thing more than once since I made them. Perhaps I'll try to awkward selfie the next time I wear them and revisit this list.) At the end of my headlong immersion into my sewing room, I came out with a drapey (voile? lawn? Lawn I think) black dress from Burda with little yellow and white hearts with pockets and a keyhole that I wear with a belt because it's kind of shapeless but I like it, a waterfall front jersey dress from Burda, a short sleeved Burda sheath dress for work, a white jersey dress (McCalls I think) with a probably quite versatile gray slip (date night slip), a super simple black long sleeved jersey dress that I want 10 of based on an Alabama Chanin pattern (I like the look of her hand embellishments but I'm realistically never going to do that. I like the simple shapes of the base patterns though!), a black short sleeve tee shirt which I like but I'll make with more ease next time, Chanin again, and another Chanin, this time an oatmeal colored tunic that I attached some lace from an ill advised similar tunic from Old Navy that never fit. I like this tunic, but the fabric is sheer so I've been wearing it as an undershirt for a sort of boho look. I think......that's it. EIGHT garments?! What? I also made half a fail of another tunic because the fabric was really pretty but like trying to cut water. I should have paid more attention to how the pattern landed, and I ended up hating it and not finishing it. I'm also in progress of a blouse by Burdastyle that I WOULD have finished, but I forgot to mark the darts on the pattern and had to get the book back from the library. Now I've had it 3 weeks and still haven't traced the sewing room got a little bit tossed when we unexpectedly decided to remodel our bathrooms. How does one toss a basement sewing room while doing a completely unrelated remodel? Well, as this is already crazy long....I'll get to that later. :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Try as I might, I just can't think of a better word to describe the past few months.

I feel as though my mind has just been spinning without knowing what direction I should choose, what direction I even WANT to go in, and I've had a really hard time with that. I've thought many times about using this blog or a journal or something to get my thoughts out, to see if that would help clarify what my next move is, but I've come to a funny realization.

It turns out that if I don't feel like I know where I want to go, I just go.....nowhere. I have a really hard time even forming thoughts to MYSELF that go anywhere when I don't know what I want to result to be. 

There is precious little in my life that has not had a definite plan, a goal, a trajectory. I typically know what I want my result to be, and while the steps to get there may require work, it's generally been easy to map out those steps. 

I knew in 4th grade that I wanted to be an architect. A teacher suggest it to my parents at a conference, and I latched onto that idea, and I worked my butt off to achieve it. I didn't necessarily have a specific picture of my family life, but I suppose I always had an ingrained picture of what it might look like based on how I grew up, and I (we) have made that happen. In many ways, there has always been a "next" step to look toward, something that would drastically change my life. College, grad school, work, wedding, house, professional license, family.

And now? Now I'm not sure. It seems like the next.....well.....30 or so years are going to either be much the same, or just incremental change, right up until retirement. That doesn't necessarily feel big, or scary, because it's so far away and something we've been planning for and saving for like most people our age and circumstance, the ones not expecting a pension and not coming from any family money. And we'll continue to do that, but daaaang that's a long time of "the same" until then. 

I guess this is what a quarter......third.....some random fraction before mid-life crisis feels like?

Crisis feels too strong though. I'm not in "crisis." Maybe I'm in doldrums. I just feel in the middle. Ok, not even the middle, but over the beginning parts, the getting used to it bits, and it just feels.....directionless? 

While I've been doing all of this mental spinning, I couldn't even seem to come up with a couple of scenarios to flesh out. That's actually a tendency I've been working on at work too. I'll partially develop all kinds of different layouts in my mind and reject them for one reason or another, and the only one that will make it onto paper (or screen) looks like it's the only one I've tried. It's something I really should work on more in life too. Sometimes when you lay something out, even if it's wrong or it won't work or you don't like it for some reason, it may spark some other thought that IS an interesting idea. 

I think I have fear of the blank page. I've had a hard time looking at the blank page on my blog. I have a dim desire to write a book sometime in my life, but because I can't picture what I would want it to be about, I'm not sure I'll ever start. (children's, fiction, research, professional, not sure, therefore I don't want to think about it.) I have been wanting to start drawing again, but I'm paralyzed by doing it "wrong." I used to draw all the time. It's the REASON that 4th grade teacher thought I'd make a good architect. Then I got to college and saw all these people who were actually REALLY good at it, and I just....stopped. I felt intimidated and sloppy. I went to a design school, and in some ways it made me afraid to design. How messed up is that. I look around at all the makers and Etsy-ers and quit your day job, make your own way-ers. It feels so romantic, that overnight success which probably took years, but it looks effortless and fun. I can't even bring myself to sign up for a table at our school's craft fair, because what would I even make that's worth making that people would want to buy when surely someone is already doing it, and doing it better. And then, if I hit on that awesome thing that people love that they DO want to buy, do I really want to BE a one man sweatshop churning out the same widget day after day? On top of a job and all the other stuff? Or, even scarier, INSTEAD of a job, where you're livelihood depends on keeping people interested in that widget or the next one, living life on social media and marketing and selling all the time? (Actually thinking of all that has made it easier for me to say, um, no, that's not what I want.)

Plus there's the time factor. I want to go in all of these directions, all at the same time, but there isn't the actual, physical time in which to do it. Most days, the hours between 7am and 8pm are fully spoken for, and mostly not directed by me. There's the j-o-b on the weekdays, and the aforementioned hands on season of mothering the other days and after the work time. And don't get me wrong, I want both of those things. But I also want me time, quiet time, creative time, lazy time. But also there's sleep. And couple time. And family time. And friend time. And laundry time (always laundry). And there's just not enough time.

I know I don't have life rocking changes on the horizon. But I know there are incremental changes coming. Soon my day hours won't be quite so intensely directed by small people. I will be able to use my sewing room more freely once everyone in the house can navigate the stairs to and from. Then I don't have to be so ELSEwhere to work on things, which will make me feel less guilty for abandoning people or not carrying my load. Even this summer will be easier to leave the house and just spend time in the yard. It's just the getting there that's been kind of hard. I know I'm certainly not the first nor the last to say it, but mothering certainly has a way of making you lose bits of yourself.

Despite all of that, I guess I'm starting to feel my way out of that "getting there" fog, that directionless spinning. Maybe part of it has been work stuff, as I've had some loss of direction in the past few months. I made a decision, finally, last week to accept a position with a new company. I've been with my current company 6 years, which is not a super long time, but pretty respectable in today's work world. It was a really hard decision for me because, while I've been in a project lull for several months, I can see real potential for things to improve in the future. Another local firm reached out to me with an interesting offer, and I decided to go for it. A lot of coworkers from a past firm are there and quite happy from what I hear, and I think it will be a good fit. It would have been a much easier decision if I was REALLY not into one or the other, but I had the distinctly first world problem of two very good options, and good enough terms at my current (soon to be former) firm that the door would remain open to me if things change in the future. I had a cup of tea the night I accepted the offer and saw this, and that settled my mind a bit. I always believe in fortunes when they feel so spot on, even if they are more "statement of fact" than "fortune." (Of course I ignore them the other 90% of the time when they don't make sense or tell me things I don't want to hear, so take that with a big grain of salt.)

Another thing that will be sort of huge will be building our new house. We bought land last year, but have had a hazy 2-3 year timeline since then on when we will actually start. The new job, and pay increase that should usually come with a new job if you're lucky, are helping bring that timeline into sharper focus. We still.....still....haven't had our plans priced out, but I feel like building next summer or fall (2018) may be a reality. There hasn't been much impetus to develop our plans to a pricing level so far, because without a deadline....well, we aren't good at working without a deadline. Plus it just felt unattainable to get what we wanted with my salary what it was. But now that's changing, so it feels like it's time. It's scary though, because as architects, we can't just pick something from a catalog and build it with its pre-figured pricing. No. We know too much about what we want, so it of course must be custom and non-standard. However....we are not residential architects, which means that we simultaneously know too little, and I'm terrified that a builder will take one look at us and our precious plan and raise his rates by 150%. Which will make the financing out of reach again, and the timeline could fall back out of focus, and with just feeling out of focus in general, well, that's been a hard step to take. 

And like always, just putting SOMETHING down to start feels better. It always does. Something to build off of, or something to scrap because at least now you know.

Decisions made - no, I will not be quitting my day job to become an artisanal soap maker, yarn dyer, professional knitter. I will, however, be trying out a new day job. I (we) will work to bring our house plan down to the square footage that we think we can afford, and set meetings with a couple of builders. Like writing that first word or drawing that first line, at least then we will have a place to start from. Maybe it will be ok and within range, and we can start the next steps of securing financing and setting down a schedule. Maybe it won't and we'll have to value engineer ourselves, and that's ok too. Lord knows we've done it enough at work! 

But I guess the lesson for me in all of this ramble is to just start. It's ok and GOOD to rip that bandaid off. Make the first mark. Just pick something. Apply force....overcome inertia.

Friday, November 4, 2016

It wasn't for me

With no fanfare, and not even any real discussion, I decided that selling It Works isn't for me. I thought about quitting in the beginning when I didn't get a super warm reception from family and friends, but decided to push on through and give it a real chance. In the end, for me, that was about 3 months. About a week before I officially quit, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Much like the decision to join, once that gut feeling was there, I knew that following it was the right thing to do.

I'm actually really happy with the whole experience. I'm glad I decided to give it a try. I don't have to question "what if?" down the road. I did meet some nice people. I pushed my comfort zone, and I feel pretty happy with the way I was in it too. I was sure to try to make any social media post that related to my business genuine. I didn't go balls to the wall and try to push products or the distributor gig on everyone I know, which is probably one of the things you are supposed to do to be successful, but I did reach out from time to time when I really thought that it might be right for someone. Some people were interested, most weren't, and that's totally fine. Like I mentioned, I wasn't interested myself for over 2 years. Maybe, given time, it would have been like that down the road if I'd decided to stick it out, but I decided that it wasn't worth it for me. I didn't start out with much in the way of "quick wins" or momentum, and I decided that the best thing for me would be to let it go before I was in for too long. It was getting a little difficult self-esteem-wise to separate people not wanting to buy a product with worrying if people maybe didn't like me either, you know? I would feel a little sad if I couldn't "grow" my networks, and I don't like to worry about that kind of thing. I think it can really bring you down if you need to focus on big numbers and needing to convert those numbers to sales rather than just getting to know people, and that's how I prefer to use my social media. That, and a record of projects I've made or books I've read or whatever. Just personal, not business. That's my happy place.

In case anyone is ever wondering, it wasn't hard at all to "get out." All I did was turn off my personal shipments for products as well as for my website....and I think that's it? I did export my customer list and passed that along to my upline so that she can take care of them. Being a customer is actually a pretty decent arrangement, and something I might end up doing myself. I had actually ordered a 90 day supply of the Greens in my last shipment, as well as my face lotion, so I'm probably good for awhile. You get the same pricing as a distributor when you are a customer, so the real incentive to distribute is if you're going to get out there and build a big network of customers and teammates, and in the end, that wasn't me.

Blink and you'll have missed it, but here ends my tenure in direct sales. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 2016 Day in the Life

According to my sidebar, I did one of these posts a year and a half ago, and it's also one of my most popular posts! I haven't been moved to do it in a while, but this year, something about it spoke to me, so here we go!

Again, I chose a Monday, but that's just a coincidence. It's still my day off, and I still love that schedule. I woke up around 6:30, which sadly is sleeping in, and even more sadly is hours later than it was a few months ago. Everyone slept all night too, so it was a relatively restful sleep. It's October and a gorgeous fall day. It's cool this morning, but should be nice later.

Feeling a bit like a mad scientist, I crush up some vitamins in almond yogurt (fun with food allergies!), and make some coffee in the french press. Which, can I just say, I think I'm doing fancy coffee wrong. I don't have a teapot, so I have to heat the water up in the microwave, and half the time I don't get to the second cup in the carafe while it's still hot, and I have to nuke it anyway. None of this is fancy. I should be demoted back to drip coffee with the hot plate to keep the second cup warm. I also threw in a load of laundry.

Breakfast is followed by playtime, and I remember that I'd planned to put something in the slow cooker for dinner. Yesterday I pulled out both chicken and a roast to defrost. The roast was still a bit frozen, so I decided on chicken, and, feeling uninspired, I googled. Cilantro lime chicken tacos sounded good, but I didn't have any salsa. Knowing I was probably making a mistake as I did it...I put in tomato sauce instead. I know, I'm ashamed. I didn't actually have any cilantro either, so I put in parsley and wondered if this was even going to be edible. I finished up in the kitchen and unloaded the dishwasher. At this point it is about 9:30

I was surprised to see a familiar face on the tv when I walked back into the living room. A dad of a school friend was on some morning show talking about bike and pedestrian safety. I was glad that I was able to go back to the top of the segment to catch his name and confirm that he WAS who I thought he was. I have such a hard time recognizing people "out of context".

After that we settled back in for some more playing while I played my youtube "watch later" list in the background. I was treated to a podcast episode from Susan B. Anderson. I just love her, and knitting podcasts in general are just so great because you are nearly guaranteed that there won't be anything offensive to little ears. I pulled the sheets out of the washer and threw in the still gross shower curtain liner again with a couple of towels in super hot water to see if I could get rid of the mildew spot I had been trying to address. We have a block window on the back wall of our shower that is super not waterproof, so we have a clear shower curtain hung in front of it. We don't open and close it frequently since that's not the in and out curtain, and I had noticed a couple weeks back that I hadn't noticed a hidden fold and it was looking yuck. Spoiler alert, my plan didn't work.

Naptime = me time. 10 am, and I get set up to do some yoga. A friend saw my complaining that the 90 min P90X workout is just way too flippin long to get through, so he shared the newer version from P90X 3 with me (no, I did not know there was more than one version!). This one is only 30 minutes which is MUCH more manageable with my limited free time. I was surprised that it wasn't a super tough workout, but instead more on the level of a moderate flow class. Other than my lack of flexibility, I could do all the poses with the group, and only nixed the extra stuff like pushups during vinyasa and some of the more difficult yoga trick toward the end - I did manage all of the balance poses though, even crow!

Then I grabbed a quick shower and another #nomakeup selfie. In fact I skipped makeup all day because lazy.

I still had a little time, so I headed downstairs to continue working on a Halloween costume. So many layers of slippery, sheer fabric going through my poor machine. What a pain.

Around noon I stopped to get lunch going. We had leftovers, one with cheese, one sad without. Same serving sizes, and still the small one screeched when the food was gone. Which is nuts. Little bottomless pit!

I got the mail, and my husband is apparently A List now on Southwest. This is great and horrible, because we should get upgraded seat assignments if we can ever get away, and horrible because it means he's logged enough trips to have earned that status.

We headed outside for a bit to enjoy the weather. It was very nice in the sun without our jackets on, but there was just enough crispness in the air that I half regretted not putting them on. Oh well, I knew we wouldn't be out for long.

When we got back inside, it seemed like I was going to get a few non-hands on minutes, so I sat down to frog back a couple rows of a pair of socks. Now that I'm on the home stretch of my other in progress pair, I wanted to get these back to a pick up and go spot. I had started them back in June when I was doing a test knit for Chrissy and I didn't love how they were going so I switched from the pattern to just doing stockinette...but then I didn't like that either and decided to go back to the original plan. So that meant ripping back several rows of plain knitting. Props to the Kroy yarn, I think I only dropped two stitches....despite all this fun going on as I ripped.

3 pm, and naptime again. I mixed up my daily glass of greens. I'm surprised again and again how much I really like this stuff! I like the taste, I like that it makes me drink more water, and I like that I have more energy and have NOT caught the plague which is constantly surrounding me from my coworkers! I've been ordering the "old" version because they are on sale and I'm cheap. :) (Also, Miller glass - #milwaukee)

The skirt is now attached to the costume, and I set about installing the zipper. I hate installing zippers, and am extra nervous about all of those slippery layers and fluffiness. I put on Buffy to keep me company (YES I watch a lot of tv), and it's the horrible, sad episode where her mom dies. Still gets me, every time.

I get the zipper in, hold it up, and have done a crap job. I put it aside for now and contemplate redoing it. One the one hand, it's just a kid costume. On the other, it's an opportunity to practice a skill I suck at. I'll probably decide to fix it, but not today. I head upstairs, continue watching Buffy (alternating with Angel because I'm watching them all in original airing order because my friend Maggie mentioned doing that once) and started the first colorwork rows of my hat. So far, so good!

4:30, and the rest of the evening hours fly by in a flash. It turns out we didn't even have any tortillas, so I popped out to Target when my husband got home to grab those and some other random things, including the crazy pea protein milk I can ONLY get at Target (annoying) (I could also go to Whole Foods, but it's not conveniently located for me, and probably more expensive) and some new shower curtains because I give up. And fell victim to a $5 deal at the checkout line, which reminded me that I forgot to grab that movie as I flew out the door to return at the library. I made a mental note to drop it off before work Tuesday so we don't get fined. I stopped by my parent's house on the way home to collect my other child. We ate dinner, and while it definitely wasn't cilantro lime chicken (how can it be when you are missing 2/5 ingredients!?), it was edible, so that's good. After dinner we watched some Hocus Pocus before bedtimes for about an hour.

After bedtime, my husband and I popped on the Netflix series we are watching (oh my GOD we are going on some kind of screen time diet!!!), Bloodline. We are about halfway through season 2. It's ok, but it's something we can watch together, so that's always points positive. By the end of the episode, I finished the colorwork portion of my hat, hooray! I even learned how to "catch my floats" in the middle sections of the hearts.

10 pm, weirdly on the dot, and it's time for bed for me. Tonight's featured 20 minutes of podcast is an episode of the crafty planner, which is an interview based show by a former city planner. I usually have no idea who her guest is, but the host does a lot of research and asks pretty insightful questions, and I like that. Happily, I fall asleep easily.