Thursday, January 29, 2009

Something Rotten in the State of Iowa

(With apologies to William Shakespeare.)

Yes, there is something rotten in the state of Iowa. It's me!!!!

Today I received a box from Washington state. This is what I found when I opened it up:

This was graciously and generously put together for me by my spoiler in the Reducio Sock Swap #4 from Ravelry. Since I was/am a member of Gryffindor house, my mini sock is done in Gryffindor's house colors.

The fun new element in this round was the addition of something related to the care of magical creatures. Thus my newest friend, Ryuu:

Ryuu is a unique little dragon (only 3 have been found!) He doesn't breathe fire. Instead, Ryuu is a guardian of all things fiber related! Isn't he just the cutest?

Of course, all things in Hogwarts swapping are delivered by owl. This is the one that delivered all my goodies safe and sound:

With a little help from:

And, I also received delicious Starbucks chocolate and my very first handmade stitch markers (I can't TELL you how cool I think they are! I'm going to be showing ALL this off to all my knitting friends next Wednesday at sit-n-knit!)

I have to say a hundred "THANK YOU'S" to Dawn in Washington for the wonderful swap gifts!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A New Day, A Fresh Outlook

Two things I love about life:

1. A good night's sleep.

Never underestimate the ability of a good night's sleep to help you with a fresh perspective on things the next day. I love the restorative, healing nature of something so natural and wonderful as simply sleeping.

2. A gathering of knitting friends.

Wednesday is my "sit-n-knit" group. We meet from 9:30 to 11:30 or noon each week. There is plenty of delicious coffee (or mochas or lattes or tea or whatever floats your boat!) along with yummy baked goods and other forms of sustenance.

The best part, however, is the weekly show-and-tell and the comradery. Today there were 11 of us. We chatted, sometimes as a whole and at other moments in smaller groups. There is laughter. (Sometimes so much it leads to tears!) Sometimes there are just tears. (That usually leads to hugs.) It is like a weekly trip to the spa/therapy/arts & crafts class all in one! Hard to beat the healing and restorative nature of that as well!

Today I worked on the socks I am making for my sister. You may have spotted the pattern on the Yarn Harlot's blog (I know that's where I found it.) I liked the way it made her varigated yarn look. I thought it might jazz up some plain yarn too.

What do you think?

The pattern is Leyburn Socks and can be found at:

I am using Paton's sock yarn (Krory, I believe) and size US#1 needles.

I think my sister will like them.

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wracked with Guilt

Somehow I couldn't leave that last post to be the first thing anyone sees.
(I am usually at the head of the line when it comes to getting on the bus for a guilt trip...just ask my sibs.)

So I thought I'd leave you with something pretty to look at:

Also I heard about two websites with cute things:



Odds & Ends

Warning: this post has nothing to do with knitting or photography.

It also contains mainly negative thoughts/news/feelings. It is largely cathartic for myself alone and therefore you may wish to skip reading it.

Consider yourself warned.

Got a financial statement from my retirement fund. I lost a little over $30K last year from retirement savings. Virtually 1/3 of my savings. Gone. Kaput. I find this uber depressing. In a world where I've been wondering if I'm not actually already experiencing some depression, this was not the news I needed. (If I were still in ministry and facing this, I don't think I could cope.)

The governor has raised the state budget cuts from 1.5% to 6.5% across the board. Of course this sets badly with my DH who assumes at least hourly now that he is going to lose his job or have his salary slashed. Last night he mentioned aloud that I might need to get "a real job" sooner rather than later. By that I know he means full-time, possibly with benefits.

I try to take a deep breath and say thank you that at least our house is paid for and we won't be losing it. We will have a roof over our heads at the very least.

I got another rejection letter r.e. my book proposal. It is not a good time to think one might make a profit from either writing or fine art photography.

Everything at work seems to be such a hassle lately. I find myself banging my head on the wall and wondering if it's me. Am I doing something wrong? Why do projects keep taking a sour turn?

I am having my first doubts as to whether we will actually pull off college for the kids. I have always been the one who was certain they could go where they wanted and become whatever they wanted to be. (I still believe that last part!) Now, I'm not so sure we can even afford the state schools. DH's pessimism spreads I'm afraid.

All I feel like doing is crawling back into bed.

I warned you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Online 6-Ply Sock Yarn

We are having an unusual streak of arctic air blasts this winter. I decided I needed some thick, wool socks and that I needed them quickly. Leslie at my LYS, Ewephoria Yarns, came to my rescue by introducing me to Online Yarn's 6-Ply Sock Yarn.

I usually knit socks on U.S. #0 needles. This 6-ply works up well using US #2's. This means less stitches per round and much quicker knitting!

Here are the two pair I've knit up thus far:

This version of Online is the Supersocke, 6-Ply, Cottage Colors collection. It is 75% superwash wool and 25% Polyamid. It comes in a very generous 150g ball with well over 400 yards. The only draw-back for me is that since it's one ball, I was hesitant in knowing how long I could make the leg on the first sock to still have enough to complete the second sock. Turns out I could've made the legs on my socks longer. Much longer. I guess that's one of those "live and learn" things! I could have remedied that by either: dividing the wool into two balls before I started knitting (might have been a tedious task!) or by using a scale to weigh the ball and the sock in progress to determine if I was nearing the "half-way" mark of usage. Since I don't have a scale, that wasn't a real option.

Anyway, I enjoyed the feel of the yarn as I was knitting and the socks appear to be very durable. They are definitely warmer than some of the other socks I've knit with finer, 4-ply yarns.

These were just quick knits following no particular pattern, just making them up as I went. The green colorway is knit toe-up with a heel flap/gusset construction, my new favorite way of doing socks.

I'd say I'll be knitting with this brand again in the future!

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day

We have a new president, President Barack Obama. I have not been so moved by Inaugural Day hoopla....ever. I feel very hopeful and I'm so happy and looking forward to doing my part!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Almost Half-Way

Today is my 43rd birthday. I suppose I'm nearing the half-way point of life (at least I like to think I have a good while left yet!)

I like where I'm at on the journey. It's like hiking in the mountains. The half-way point is the pinnacle! You get to the top and have a chance to enjoy some breath-taking views! You have a broader can see a lot further!

And the fact that it's all downhill from there is actually a positive thought to me! Making your way up is tough, often strenuous work. The effort requires concentration and sheer will-power to take another step sometimes. Sometimes you feel like giving up. (Sometimes you sit down on a rock while everyone else goes on without you....and you don't get to see the view from the top.....I know.)

The way down doesn't require near the same exertion. You can enjoy yourself. I see more on my way back down than I did on the way up. Enjoy the smaller details. Breathe easier. Encourage the people who are struggling on their way up that it really is worth it.

I'm very blessed to have a great husband, kids, extended family and friends who share the journey with me. Thanks for a special day guys....I love you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holy Cr@#!!!!

Awoke to an actual temperature of -26*F with windchills in the -30s.

Our high today: -8*F.

Now: -15*F and falling.

I'm going back to my knitting.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I thought I'd share a few pictures from Leslie's shop, Ewephoria Yarns, in Pocahontas. She's in a house just north of the intersections of highways 3 & 4, on the west side of the road. She's got 4 rooms full of lovely yarn, kits, needles, etc.
Have a look!

Of course there are also magazines, books and a work space to sit and knit or take a class. She carries spindles, buttons and crochet hooks made by another local artisan in addition to her own line of hand-dyed yarns (which are GORGEOUS!!) If you're ever in this corner of the world, it's definitely worth a stop!!

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pocahontas' Scarf

Several months ago my LYS (I use the term relatively.....if I were living in a huge metro area I might drive an hour across town to visit a "local" yarn shop. Ewephoria Yarns ( is the closest LYS I have and is approximately 42 miles away in another town. Considering I live in a "city" by Iowa standards [25,000 people] and Ewephoria is two or three counties away in a town of 2000 people, some people find it odd. That's all. Just saying.) owner, Leslie, organized an event on Ravelry wherein she invited knitters to creat 6x6" or 12x12" blocks which would be sewn together to form a beautifully handknit, diverse scarf to adorn the gigantic statue of Pocahontas that welcomes people to town who are coming in via Highway 3.

I was happy to knit a couple blocks. She was happy to get a great response from kind and generous knitter across 21 states in the U.S. and from 5 countries. The scarf was put onto the Princess in time for Thanksgiving and the start of holiday shopping and travel.

I missed going up for the big moment when the actual scarfing occured. However, since I edit the local monthly magazine, I decided it was high time to cover Pocahontas and drove up there yesterday to do my story. Here's what I found!

What fun! I spent some time visiting with Leslie for the magazine article (and buying more yarn, of course!) and discovered some interesting things. The scarf is 36 feet long. One lovely volunteer from Ireland actually sheared her sheep, carded and combed the wool, spun the yarn and dyed it, then knit up her square and sent it. Leslie remembered it as an orange square somewhere about 5 or so blocks up from one of the ends.

(Here's a close up in case you can spot it. Take note of the two blocks the arrows point to.)

See the Union Jack (flag of England)?? That square was contributed by a knitter from Gravesend, Kent, England. That location just happens to be the eternal resting place of the historical Pocahontas who married John Rolfe and went back to live with him in England. What a great connection for this small town in northwest Iowa named after the Native American princess!

The other block in burgundy and cream with the slip-stitch color work was in fact knitted by yours truly. (The other block I did with cables falls at the back of the neck of the statue and isn't visible in the photo.)

What a great thing Ravelry is to have brought all these people together for such a fun and whimsical project! And how great of Leslie at Ewephoria Yarns and the people of Pocahontas, Iowa to display the project....turning one piece of "art" into two!

Happy Knitting!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life I've Found You!

(With apologies to Madeline Kahn!)

I can't believe it took me well over 50 pairs of socks to discover the secret to the perfect pair of socks for my feet!

I finally experimented with toe-up socks that have a heel flap/gusset. (The short row heels I had been doing never fit me right, no matter how I fiddled with the number of stitches.)

They fit me so well, I even convinced my husband to try on the pair that were too long for me. He hasn't taken them off since!!

Without further adieu, here they are . . . .

The pair in the middle are mine. They were knit from Regia and are fondly called my "Monet Socks" simply because the colorway reminds me of a Monet painting. The others are socks knit for my DH using yarn from Knit Picks. He's been wearing the pair on the left so much that I decided to knit him another before he wears through the first pair.

I LOVE this method first, because they fit the best. Second, because knitting them toe-up allows me to knit until I run out of yarn, meaning the leg/cuff are longer than my other pairs. (I always got nervous that I *might* run out of yarn, so kept them shorter and then ended up with lots left over.)

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Christmas was extremely kind to me considering I wasn't really in the spirit this year. (I still can't believe we didn't put up a tree.......) Look at these wonderful gifts I received!

How many women are lucky enough to have their husband go into a yarn shop while on summer vacation in hopes of purchasing a memory to give at Christmas and unwrap this:

It's a gorgeous suri alpaca/merino blend, specially dyed there in Colorado. I wish you could feel it. It's to die for. Really. Good job hon!

My kids got me two things I LOVE: Starbucks and Crayola Crayons. (Everyone needs a new box of colors every now and then. I ended up with 120 different colors! Yeah!!)

My SIL in Ohio has ventured into making jewelry and she designed this gorgeous necklace just for me! It's made up of my favorite colors and will go with half my wardrobe! I love it!

Thanks T!!!! I got the chance to sit and visit with her for over an hour and it was so nice to reconnect again. That was one of my best parts of Christmas...and when I think about it may have been a turning point in the whole holiday for me as I felt so much lighter and happier after seeing her. I think she was my Christmas angel.

Other items that make the highlight list of gifts received: Delicious homebaked goodies from my sister, my other SIL in WI, and my friend from college; a fun Wii game of Mini-golf that we have all been enjoying immensely; a new pair of Crocs I can wear in the snow; several hugs from my niece; time spent with nephews; yummy chili my step-dad made; lots of letters from family and friends.

In the end it is the relationships I am most thankful for. While some of them remain a bit tenuous for now, others saw some progress toward healing, for which I am most grateful.

May 2009 be full of favorite things: friends, family, knitting and photos!

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 - New Beginnings

Well, I really did intend for my next post to have been titled "These are a few of my favorite things" in which I would have photographed a few of my most prized gifts received for the holidays. But time seems to have slipped by without my camera ending up in my hands, and I'd really like to do justice to the beautiful items I received (namely some heavenly yarn and a gorgeous one-of-a-kind made just for me necklace) I'll save my Sound of Music post for next time.

Here it is, another new year. 2009. My husband is a bit superstitious about odd numbered years, believing that they hold more negative energy than positive. I believe this is largely due to the fact his mother left this world in an odd numbered year. However, we were married in a year ending in an odd number, and both our kids were born during years which ended in "1" and "3" resepctively. So I am more hopeful that this year -2009 - just might have a lot more positive karma than others might think.

Last year my only resolution was to live a more intentional life. While I had my moments, I think that overall it was a good resolution which changed my life for the better. So I shall continue to make that my resolution for the coming year as well. I know that there are some life-changing events coming down the pike and my hope is to simply be in the moment. Aware. Reflective. Intentional.

That will be enough for me. Enough is good.

Happy New Year!