Not just a hobby, it's a way of Life

Hey, it’s still January!

I’m back again! Yay!

Really, you have no idea how much of a big thing this is for me. Motivation is still pretty scarce around here, but I’m trying.

Still in chemo cap mode. I delivered nine hats (fingering weight knits, so lots and lots o’ knitting) this week, and I’ve knit another three since then, thanks in part to a very generous donation of yarn. (thank you, Chris!) Not to worry, the yarn coffers around here are in no danger of depleting. I’ve got lots of soft acrylic yarns in the stash due to me always having been a bit princess-and-the-pea about my yarn softness, even before I discovered a world beyond acrylic.

I did squeeze in another baby blanket for my dear friend’s grandchild. I knit this for her originally.

Rosebuddie by Anne Hanson in Juliespins Glimmer yarn “Sweet Pea”

Baby Girl loved it. It’s her comfort squishy, and she pokes her fingers through the lace and squeezes. Now, New Dad is totally smitten with Baby Girl and wanted to commission another afghan for her. “It’s my baby girl, I don’t care about the cost!” My friend explained to him that’s not how it works; Needlefingers does this out of love, and it takes a long time to make a blanket, etc.

Well friends, when faced with a Baby Girl who needs a back-up blankie, of course Needlefingers delivered.

Back-up Blankie Rippling Waves Baby Blanket in Red Heart Soft Baby Angel Print

Back-up Blankie is not as involved as the original one, and I whipped it up in a couple of days. New Dad was completely surprised and thrilled with it. And reports are Baby Girl likes it, too. ;)

In local news, our sun has gone missing. There were almost sightings of it a few times, but those turned out to be false reports. And if the pattern hold true, February is nothing but gray. Love Valentine’s Day or hate it, I think it was cooked up because Great Yelping Gouda (phrase stolen from a online group), did they need some color, stat. I was holding off taking picture for the website until we got a sunny day, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Forget the yarn, I’m the one who needs a light box.

Two posts in the same month is not necessarily a trend, but let’s hope it is!

Hey, Blog!

Hi!

I’m back.

So what have I been up to? Lots. Not enough. I don’t know.

We took a cruise of New England and Canada. I went to Rhinebeck.

I’ve been very tired. Very, very tired.

Right now, I’m knitting chemo caps. Our local cancer charity was looking for someone to donate, and you know, I’ve got a ton of suitable yarn for it. Now, I’m probably not knitting them fast enough to be truly useful, but it’s better than nothing, right? The current batch is from yarn I bought waaaay back when on the first yarn crawl I went on for this area. One of the shops didn’t have much that really sang to me, but I wanted to support each shop. I found a neat self-striping acrylic yarn, Plymouth Diversity, and bought four skeins on a lark. Then it sat in my stash until now. I can get two hats out of one skein, and they are quite fetching.

Ah, phooey. I was hoping the new WordPress would make inserting images easier. All of my stuff is on Google Photos. Maybe I can add them from the app.

In other news, one of these days needlefingers.com is going to be a thing. I mean, it’s a thing right now, it’s just an empty thing.

Let’s go back to spring of 2018. I was at my spinning/knitting/do whatever craft makes you happy retreat, and I was doing some grading for my online classes. I thought, hey, I ought to see if I have students enrolled for summer. I logged into the faculty system, and there were no classes listed for me. I checked to see if maybe I had been let go without being told (it could happen), but no, the course I taught had been removed from the college catalog. This did in fact happen without me being told, but that’s not out of character for that institution.

I still had two classes listed for fall, but after monitoring them up until two weeks before classes were going to start, I only had two students. That institution paid per student, so it really wasn’t feasible to keep teaching there. I did pick up two classes for fall at another institution, then nothing for spring 2019, then three classes for fall 2019, and now for spring, I’ve had three sections cancel due to low enrollment, with one more section starting in March. It currently has four students.

All of this is to say, employment hasn’t been a terribly stable thing. I’ve been supplementing with craft shows selling soap and yarn. Craft shows really can’t be considered stable income either, but it’s something. And, I really like making soap and dyeing yarn. I would do that even if I couldn’t sell them (but obviously would need to, or else the house would fill up with yarn and soap). I cannot say that I would grade essays if I wasn’t getting paid for it. However, I cannot turn off the spellcheck in my brain, which makes Facebook all the more horrifying.

So, back to needlefingers.com. I’ve known for a while I need to get my stuff listed, and there’s another well-known platform that I have used in the past. But recently, there’s been more and more complaints about that platform, pushing sellers to offer free shipping and just roll the expense into the price. And then it’s reported the CEO doesn’t like the term ‘handmade’. Well, that really doesn’t sit well, so I think I’m going to avoid that altogether.

When will I actually get to doing that? Eh, I don’t know. I tend toward, um, overthinking things, and right now all I can think is, “Omigosh, what if I don’t get the color just right and despite warnings about different monitors could make it appear differently, they blame me for ruining their very lives and hate me forever?” Yeah, I know that’s off-kilter thinking. But, I do want to do the very best job I can in accurately portraying my wares. Maybe I’ll finally learn how to use Gimp, and that might set my mind at ease.

There’s just so much uncertainty right now, in my life and the world at large.

Maybe I need another cup of coffee.

The year so far

I have a plan. (Don’t I always?)  Or maybe a goal.  Anyway, what I would like to do is record stuff that happens in life so that I have a back-up memory when we’re trying to figure out when the last time was that we saw Ramblin’s parents or dear family/friends Ragged and Cynical.  So, since I’m behind this year, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle in for a bit of a catch-up.

The first weekend of the year found us heading south to see Ramblin’s parents.  He took off Friday so that we could leisurely drive down and arrive in the daylight.  If we leave after he gets off work at this time of year, we would arrive well after dark.  We had a good visit and found a few treasures at the ‘junk stores’, as Ramblin’s momma calls the second-hand resale shops.  My big score was a Teavana infuser pitcher for $2.  I’ve discovered/became obsessed with loose leaf tea and cold brewing said tea.  This pitcher is perfect for making iced tea.

The next week, we were supposed to get all kinds of wintry mess, so it was good that we traveled the week before to see his parents.  I decided that the warmth right before the impending storm would be a great time to dye yarn!  Now, you’ve heard of micro-brewers of beer, yes?  Well, indie dyers are like the micro-brewers of yarn.  I consider myself a nano-dyer.  I’m not at the capacity of amazing people like Knitting Notions, but I can make little batches of stuff that I tend to squeal and eee over.

yarn drying

Yarn pile

That’s really just a tiny, tiny bit.  However while dyeing 100+ skeins before the storm hit seemed like a good idea, I kind of forgot the whole rinsing and accommodating the drying of said skeins in the house.  I was not going to brave the ice and snow and cold to get to the yarn room.  But it worked.

The next weekend, Jan 20-21 was ice-free, so we traveled down to the family farm to check in on my uncles.  The family farm house is the gathering spot for Sundays.  They all live at their own homes, but they are very close to the homestead.  We travel the farthest, at a little under an hour.  Our family has owned the land for five generations, and there is five generations’ worth of junk there.  You could argue some of it is treasure, but much of it is junk.  What astounded me is last fall, after years of talking about it (long consideration before taking action is a family trait), my uncle was contacted by someone who scraps to clean up the place.  Car bodies, farm combine bodies (that had sizable trees grown up around them), and scrap metal of all sorts was finally hauled off.  Two outbuildings that had been collapsed for a good 15-20 years and the treasures/junk inside them are being cleaned up.  I would have taken before and after pictures, but I never imagined there would be an after.  I really thought it would fall to me and Ramblin’ to take care of it.  But it is looking great.

On Jan. 25, Ramblin’ and I celebrated 21 years together.  He reserved a cabin in southern Illinois, and we traveled down on Thursday to enjoy some time away from it all.  The main draw of the cabin was the hot tub.  With my connective tissue disorder, aching is a reality of daily life.  The buoyancy of the water plus the heated jets is so restorative.  If I win the lottery, a hot tub is the first purchase.  I do not play the lottery, so I’m not sure how that’s going to happen.  We spent the extended weekend soaking and eating oreos.  So. Many. Oreos. I regret nothing.

The first weekend in February, there were chances for ice/snow, so we decided to stay in.  Of course, the weather promised never showed, but it was nice to have a weekend of down time.

The next weekend, there were chances again, but we didn’t believe them.  Besides, I needed to get my tax papers to my uncle as we have all of our taxes done together because of the farm. We woke up to a glazing of ice.  The roads didn’t seem too bad, but the further south we went, the worse they got.  Bridges were particularly treacherous.  As there is a fairly long bridge between us and the farm, we opted to turn around.  At this point, I would like to mention that the weather had been consistently cold this year.  Lots of single digit highs.

However, the next weekend was going to be warmer and no ice, so we took that opportunity to visit Ragged and Cynical.  We finally determined that the last time we saw them was June of last year.  Too long, but busy lives get in the way sometimes.  It was great to see them and catch up.  I also discovered a Starbucks drink I don’t mind at all – the Blonde Espresso Latte.  It doesn’t have any of the bitterness I’ve come to expect from there.

We subjected them to a movie made locally to us.  (Sorry about that, guys.)  It wasn’t very good (okay, it was awful – mostly the f-word, which is fine when used for a purpose, and questionable filming technique), but you do have to give the creators credit for taking the leap and putting it out there.  If we wait for perfection, we might wait our whole lives.  “Done is better than good” and “Perfect is the enemy of good” are common phrases that essentially push us off our rumps to do something.  That is the root of my procrastination, but what do I miss out on waiting for things to be just so?

So this past weekend, we finally made it down to the farm – and I forgot my tax papers.  Argh!  So, I’ll have to get those down at some point so we can get the process started.  All of the uncles were well. (There’s been a couple of hospitalizations they’ve neglected to inform me of in the past.  I swear it’s like herding cats.)  More of the buildings were cleaned up.  We did pass some fairly high water on the way down, and the backwaters are coming up in our field.  The house is probably about three miles from a smallish river, so not in danger, but the woods and part of the farm ground do flood pretty regularly.  We didn’t get nearly the rain threatened.  The farm wound up with about 5″ for the week.

And lest I forget – the Olympics!  I love the Winter Games.  We’ve been binge-watching pretty much anything NBC wanted to show us.  We even got Sling TV for a month just to have another option.  Yesterday was our first post-Olympic evening, and it felt a little sad.  But now we can catch up on all the other shows that we put off.

I’ve been knitting up a storm.  So much so that I have not done any spinning or weaving.  I have so many plans.  But today I should finish off yet another big shawl wrappy thing, so maybe that will push me to get a warp on the loom.  One thing that is slowing me down is on Saturday I developed back spasms while grocery shopping.  It’s left me pretty much unable to do much of anything, but today it finally feels more like sore muscles from a hard workout than an injury, so some gentle strengthening exercises are in order.  The irony is I just started slowly getting back into exercising a couple of days last week (I don’t think the two are related), and that put a temporary halt to that.

In other news, I got Ramblin’ a ‘pro-sumer’ coffee roaster.  We had been roasting coffee beans with an air-popper, which did a surprisingly decent job, but it was obviously limited.  I didn’t know what else to get him for xmas, and I wanted it to be something good.  This has adjustable roast profiles and can roast up to a pound of beans at a time (in comparison, the air-popper did about 3 oz).  I believe he was pleased and simultaneously peeved that I spent what I did, so he retaliated by getting me a bath bomb press.

So let’s talk plans for this year.  One goal is to add craft shows to my lineup. My ‘day job’ has taken a serious turn, and it appears it will no longer be sustaining.  So, other avenues will have to be found.  For right now, I can’t make a living off of my creativity, so I will need to find another ‘day job’, but I might as well stick a bit more than a toe in and see what happens with the other creative pursuits.  I’ve always approached it as I like making things, and selling things means I get to make more things.  Otherwise the house just fills up.

Yay!  You’ve made it through my year so far!  I can’t promise how often I will post, but I know I need to record things for my own benefit, and maybe some of you will be entertained as well along the way.

Shawl City

Well, the big ol’ mystery shawl is complete!

WTF Side A

Below is technically the reverse side, but I really like it almost more than the right side.

IMG_20171005_135143421.jpg

So then, it’s on to a new big ol’ shawl! This one was a mystery when I joined, but I didn’t get to start it until now. This is Joji Locatelli’s Starting Point.

Starting Point beginning

There’s two other mystery KALs I’ve joined, but I’m focusing on my current knit. The good news is both of them look to be things I will want to make. Another mystery I was watching but had not joined moved into the ‘nah’ territory, so yay for not buying that one. ;)

Fall weather may have finally arrived in our area, knock wood, so if it’s fall in your area, get out there and enjoy the gorgeous weather!

Socktoberfest!

It’s Socktoberfest!

And I have a pair of socks started, sort of.

See, I’m in Big Damn Shawl (like Big Damn Heroes of Firefly, but different) mode.  I was discussing it with a friend, and I think she got to the heart of the matter when she said, “Adult security blankies!”  And if there ever was a time to need a security blanket, this would be it.

First, I finally finished the Stephen West mystery KAL from, um, March.

Then I started the Andrea Mowry mystery KAL.

And once this is done, I’m going back to the Joji Locatelli. I might have a mystery KAL problem. After that, I have yarn to make the Wonder Woman shawl.

So socks?  Yeah, not really on the radar this year.

Back again!

Wooo, look at me posting again! (still don’t have the app downloaded though)

As you can probably deduce from the lack of posts and sheer volume of yammering when I do post, it’s been a bit busy ’round here.  In fact, even though there are still things percolating, last Thursday was really a point where I could take a breath and go, “Whew!”  What does a knitter do at that point?  She (in this particular case) casts on socks.

And then, once she finishes that pair in three days, she casts on a shawl out of the skein of yarn she simply could not bear to part with for the yarn crawl.

(Yes, I know you can see these in the widget on the side bar, but isn’t this more personal like we’re actually talking about them?)

I know I have more things looming (ha – weaving joke!  Yes, there’s also a bunch of stuff I need to weave), but for right now, I’m enjoying the relative freedom to do whatever I want for the next couple of weeks.  Just so long as what I want to do is make about 60 pounds of soap and dye skeins and skeins of yarn.  Fortunately, that’s exactly what I want to do.  :)

I’m back – again

Well, let’s see what I said last time and what needs updates.  I feel like I have been on a constant run since, um, April?  March?

The new spring craft show I tried was a bust. They have a very well attended fall show, but this was the first spring show. I heard varying reports of other things going on in the town, so that may have contributed to the low turnout. Then we didn’t have a great location, with many people not realizing there were booths at our end of the hallway. So, I’ll stick with smaller shows in smaller towns and the ever-popular Etsy.

I actually had a small show at a new location and did really well there.  I had found out about it late, and they were already full, but took my contact information.  Five days before the show, they called to say they had a cancellation, and I was in if I wanted.  I had prepped for a show at Ramblin’s work a couple of weeks after that, so I jumped on it. Did really well.  Got a call from the local health food store needing a restock on things. Then we had our annual spinning/knitting/sock-cranking/weaving/do-whatever-makes-you-happy retreat in May, and I sold yarn and soapy things there.  The next week was the show at Ramblin’s work, and it went phenomenally well.  All the while, I worked late into the evenings to make more lotions, scrubs, and bath bombs for the next event.  Soap has to cure for 4-6 weeks, so I just hoped I didn’t run out.  It was close.

The rest of May was spent winding up my new-to-me Literature class.  So much relief to post the grades.  Then, the first weekend in June, we did something fun!  Ragged and Cynical had invited us to go along with them to the Walker Stalker Con in Nashville.  We’re casual fans of the show.  This means none of us spent $100 for photos or $50 for autographs and selfies.  It was cool to see the stars of the show, albeit from varying distances.

In vacationing news, we went on a bus tour to New Orleans in mid-June and brought Ramblin’s parents along. I had been to New Orleans before and really enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so I was eager for them to see what an interesting city it was. I’m not sure if it was just the bus-tour aspect, but it wasn’t as fantastic as the first time I went. I think we would have enjoyed it more on our own schedule, and Ramblin is game to go back one day.

The local yarn crawl just wrapped up, and I was very pleased with the result. My LYS (local yarn shop for the non-yarny folks reading) had my yarns and soap+soap-related products during the crawl, and I only brought home a tiny bitof yarn, and a little over half of the soap products.  Considering I took a lot of stuff, that’s pretty good.

Yarn and soap at the 2017 Illiana Yarn Crawl at Atkinson Farm Yarns

Guessing what colors will be popular is really like playing a game of whack-a-mole.  Things I thought would sell – didn’t; things I thought might not go – did.  My LYS owner said she has quit trying to guess and just gets a wide selection of colors.  A fun thing I did both last year and this year was make a soap to match the special yarn crawl yarn.

Yarn Crawl shawl designed by Jane Campbell and matching soap made by yours truly

I hit my reading challenge for the year.  It was a modest 24 books, since I hadn’t read anything close to that in years.  Last year I read nine (sheesh!) and in 2015 I read 13, 14 in 2014 (appropriate!), 13 in 2013 (appropriate again!), and 23 in 2012.  In 2012, I was finishing my master’s degree and starting the graduate certificate, so I’m sure none of those were fun.  But, thanks to the Goodreads stats (oh how I do love numbers!), I know that the best year for pages read had been 2014 with 10133 pages (thanks, A Song of Ice and Fire series) compared to only one less book in 2013 for a total of 5,486 pages.  This year, I’m at 10,333 pages read so far.  I’m currently actively reading two books (you can keep up with that in the right hand column, should you so desire – yeah, I know it says four, but one was just opened on the Kindle and the other may never get finished)  and would love to hit 50 books by year’s end.  I mostly read on devices, but I do have the analog Dark Tower series.  Maybe after I finish with Odd Thomas.

I have a new smartphone, thanks to Amazon Prime Phones, Prime Day, and Tracfone BYOP.  Yes, I love technology, but I’m cheap.  The phone I had before was smart-ish, but had so little memory it couldn’t do – well, anything.  So now, I should be able to accomplish all kinds of things.  Or so I tell myself.

It’s been a slow summer, student-wise.  I had eight, but that’s dropped to five, and really only three are dedicated.  That should change this fall when I’m theoretically going to be teaching Comp I online to 75 high school students.  So, I’m enjoying the downtime right now.  I have big dyeing plans for the LYS as the owner and I have cooked up some really fun things.  Things like a shop colorway – you heard it hear first.

And that’s been my spring/summer so far.  Maybe I’ll download the WP app and make updating more convenient to do.