Sunday, February 28, 2010

Small Victories

A small-ish parade of fo's to share today. First up: the Natalya mitts for eldest's music teacher. These were very quick to make and only used about 2/3 the skein of Malabrigo. We gave them to her on Thursday and, I swear, it looked like she was going to cry...she loved them so much! The fit and color were perfect and I was so glad that I made them. Its not often that gifted hand-knits elicit any kind of response other than polite murmurs so it is really fulfilling when you actually get visible excitement and appreciation.

The next thing on the hit parade is my Noro vest. Oh how I struggled with the decision on what to do about my color shortage. In the end, reason (and cheapness) ruled the day and I just worked with what I had. I don't think it is too noticeable where I changed the color sequence and I really love the finished vest. It is so warm and pretty. I'm glad I just sucked it up and got it done. In the past I would have just let it languish incomplete for who knows how long.

Details for both projects are on my Ravelry page here. Now that the vest is out of the way I can dream about what to make next. While I'm making up my mind on the big project I've cast on another pair of plain socks for myself, this time in burgundy-purple Trekking.

The last win for this week is my craft room. It is all painted and everything is moved in. There is still some sorting to do but its all there and easily accessible. I don't think all my stuff has ever been in one place before. Its a bit shocking, actually, seeing how much I have. Not just yarn (which in itself is kind of appalling), but the fabric and sewing supplies and the general craft stuff, too. Well, I know I won't be shopping for a while and the girls will finally have a chance to try out all the fun crafty things that I can dig out for them!

That's it for now. I have to get upstairs and help K. with painting the girls' rooms. Today we are doing eldest's in a rich purply-blue. Youngest is getting a soft spring green when we get to it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Progress Stalled

Unfortunately, I think today's title says it all. It seems that every area in my crafting world is temporarily on hold. My Noro vest was kicking along most delightfully when it hit an unfortunate snag. Due to a knot in one of the skeins and my desire to have the colour sequence perfect, I had to break into the 2nd skein to finish the back. As I was knitting merrily along on the front I had a dreadful flash of premonition. Sure enough, a quick check revealed that I would run out of a key colour in the sequence before the front was complete. What to do? There are two answers here..#1. Try to find another skein of the matching dyelot (I bought it off the internet) and pay $$ for what would amount to 2-3 inches of colour sequence perfection or #2. Suck it up and just leave it not quite matching (Oh..the horror!). Seems like an easy choice, no? But my inner perfectionist is cringing at the thought of the finished project turning out less than perfect even if no-one would notice it but me. While I am mentally sorting this out I have put the project in a drawer and read a couple of good paperbacks.

The other part that is choking at the moment is my craft room. I have boxes and bins everywhere in the basement taking up space and preventing the other rooms from being sorted out. This stuff is all waiting for my craft room to be painted so that I can put up shelves and organize it to my heart's content. Unfortunately, the paint colour I chose looked fine on the chip card but lousy on the walls so another trip to the paint store must be made. Not an easy task as it is not close by and I don't drive. So I have to wait for K. to make the trip and, because the paint store closes early during the week, it will most likely have to wait until Saturday. I'm trying not to be upset at having my things in limbo for another week, trying to tell myself that, in the big picture, it is not long at all. But it is hard waiting and not getting anything done.

In the meantime, I purchased a skein of Malabrigo on my birthday visit to the LYS:

It is Periwinkle, a beautiful colour that is not suited to me but will work very nicely for the cabled fingerless mitts (Natalya) that I plan on making as a thank-you gift for eldest's new music teacher. When we started at the new school, eldest's class been having recorder lessons since September. Not so at the old school. So eldest had to quickly learn how to read music, play the recorder, and get fast enough to keep up with the other kids. Her music teacher was kind enough to offer private after school lessons (for free!) to teach eldest all the stuff the others had already learned and help her catch up. I am so grateful and appreciative of her kind heart! So I thought I would make her a small token of my esteem this weekend and give them to her next week along with a thank-you card from eldest. I hope she likes them... 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today is my birthday. And not just any birthday, but the big 4-0. A major milestone for sure. Birthdays are traditionally a time to look back over my life and the choices I've made to become the person I am today. So today I am reflecting on who I am and how I got here and where I'm headed down the road. I try not to spend too much time dwelling on the what-ifs of my choices. It seems kind of redundant to think about how my life might have turned out..its not like you can go back for a do-over. 

I've worn many different personas in my life: child, student, outcast, artist, punker, goth, lover, working professional, wife, new mom and, lately, suburban mom. Some I've worn with ease and others have been an uncomfortable fit at best. I never had the story-book type life..I grew up poor and unwanted. I did not fit in at school. I had no childhood sweetheart. I had almost no friends. I was one of the only punk/goth kids in the small town I grew up in. I moved away from my parents when I was 18 and started my life in the big city at the very bottom in skid row. Over the years, I have had many jobs, relationships, and homes and in each one lived as a different person with each new situation altering my personality in small ways. The biggest change in my life was definitely becoming a mom at 30. I have had depression issues all my life but having a baby kicked it into overdrive. I had severe post-partum depression with each child and only now, 10 years later, do I feel like I can manage life again.

Currently I am terrified of getting old and infirm. My mother had deep depression when I was a child and she developed early Alzheimer's and severe dementia in her mid-fifties. When she died of medical complications at 64 she had basically ceased to be a functioning person, right down to forgetting her name and even how to eat. I constantly live in fear that each year is going to bring me one step closer to ending up the same way. I try to work against it by taking care of myself with proper nutrition, exercise and vitamins. I also try to reduce my stress levels whenever possible and I'm actively fighting against my own depression for the first time in years. 

My goals for the coming years are simple. I want to live my life in the best way I can and be happy doing it. I want to be part of my daughters' lives for years to come and leave them with many wonderful childhood memories of me. I want to be able to look back when I'm 90 and feel satisfied with what I've done and where I've been.

And now back to today. I am in a nice new home with a loving family that is spoiling me with gifts. On Valentines Day K. gave me the picture at the top of the post. It is quite large with a nice frame and will be mounted above the fireplace once the living room is painted. This morning, the girls jumped out of bed to give me things they had gotten K. to drive all over the city to get:
There's a beautiful china teacup and saucer from youngest (for your collection, mommy) and a length of flower printed cotton from eldest (so you can make a pretty quilt, mommy) and Wii "Your Shape" from K. (he knew I was wanting something like Wii Fit). Youngest also made me the picture. I especially like the upper right hand bit where it says "two things Mom's really good at: knitting and cooking".

I decided to buy myself a little something this morning at the local yarn store:

Some Sandnes baby alpaca in spring colours for a cardigan. I don't know when I will get to the actually knitting, mind you. But the yarn is soft and pretty and nice to pet..

And thats it for birthday musings. Long and heavy, I know but sometimes you just have to get it all out of your system before moving forward. My next post will be full of crafty-type fun stuff I'm sure!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pretty, Pretty Progress

The Noro vest is growing at a satisfactory pace. I am almost finished the back piece then on to the front! I am so in love with the richness of the colours and the wooly texture. A lot of people have bad words to say about Noro yarns...the spin is inconsistent, there are knots that break up the colour sequence, there are bits of shrubbery in it, it is scratchy, etc. But for me, personally, none of that matters. I absolutely adore the finished texture of Kureyon and Kureyon sock. It is wooly and earthy and almost felty feeling. And the colours! Many have tried, but no other yarns seem to achieve the rich depth of colour that Noro has. It is almost like a pool of oil paints on a deep and saturated. Sure, there are many colourways that look garish to me but when I find one that I like I knit like mad just to see what will come up next. Also, a lot of the time what comes out is almost a surprise..shades I didn't see initially lurking in the ball, waiting to be discovered. Even colours that don't seem to go together at all just work some how in the finished project. I find that Noro yarns work really well with more basic designs too. Just let the yarn do the work so that you can sit back and enjoy the knitting process.

I am loving this project so much that I can't wait to get back to it whenever I'm doing something else. I swear its almost like I hear music when I'm working on it! I think it is important to use hard-won free time to work on things that make you happy. Too often I get caught up in making things for practical, utilitarian purposes and don't really enjoy the process. In those cases, it seems like I am forcing myself to just finish the project and I often wonder why I even started knitting in the first place. 

In the home front not much has been happening in the last couple of days. I caught an annoying cold and have been kind of babying it. We are pecking away at the unpacking, cleaning, and repair jobs. We are hoping to start painting the girls' rooms this weekend so that they can be fully moved into their spaces. Our appliances all got delivered and look great. We just have to get the rest of the house up to speed!

Well, thats it for now. Hope everyone has a great weekend and Valentines Day. Make sure that you take time to do something you love (hopefully with someone you love)!

Monday, February 8, 2010

First Impressions

Wow..I can't believe how long its been since I've had a moment to spend any amount of time on the internet. It has been so crazy-busy that I haven't had any spare time at all.

Moving...well, what can I say. It was crazy. Everything went smoothly for getting out of our old place. We had a firm plan and plenty of people to do the jobs so all fell into place. Everything made it safely here, on time and in (relatively) one piece. I stayed at the apartment during the furniture moving in order to thoroughly clean it from top to bottom. We were fully out a day earlier than we had to be and only went back to do last minute cleanup like floors and getting rid of garbage. All in all it was the best, calmest move I've ever done.

Then we arrived here at our new place. We got the keys ok and all seemed to be well until we got inside. We were met with the unbelievable filth. Luckily there was no actual garbage, but it was bad. The bathrooms were black on every surface with plenty of dirt and hair on the floors, especially around the toilets. The kitchen, which fortunately I didn't see until some cleaning was done, was completely encrusted. The fridge was black and greasy and the stove was crusted on with, I swear, two years worth of baked on food, inside and out. Even the light switches and baseboards were gunked up with grime. The windows have black mildew in them and greasy fingerprints all over them. The floors, which are beautiful, were filthy and had random clumps of black, gummy crap stuck everywhere. I cannot believe that anyone, especially someone who owns the place, could not only live like this (with kids, too) but leave it that way. Yes, the place was dirty when we viewed it, but you would expect at least a little bit of effort, especially considering what we paid for it.

So I have been cleaning before even trying to sort out where our stuff goes. It has been a slow process, but we are starting to see the end of the tunnel now. We have also been fixing a lot of things..minor 5-minute repairs that the people seemed to be too lazy to do. Our new appliances arrive this week, hurray! The ones that are here are work ok, but they are cheap and old so it will be nice to have new good-quality ones. We are getting new bathroom cabinets in the next couple of weeks and doing fixture changes to modernize everything. We are going to start painting next, but daunting. This place is huge and all of it needs to be done. Besides marks on the walls, the idiots actually hung up pictures with construction nails and large screws..and left them all behind, sticking out in a most unsightly fashion.

When I have had the chance I managed to squeeze in a little bit of knitting here and there. I finished my pretty socks:

And I cast on a new project using Noro Kureyon Sock. It will be another cabled vest in the same design as I made before (details in Ravelry), but in much brighter jeweltones. It makes me very happy to work on and I can't wait until it is all done so that I can wear it. I found that I ended up wearing the last one quite a bit. Even though it is very lightweight it seems to add just enough warmth to the long sleeved t-shirts that I often wear.

Well that's it so far. The girls are adjusting to their new school routines much better than I am, ha ha. They actually got to play outside with other kids in the complex on Saturday..a first for them. The dog and the cat seem to love their newfound freedom to roam about the three levels of this place and have forays out to the back yard. Its really nice..fairly private and completely fenced. Hopefully I will be getting time to work on my still not set up craft room soon.