Friday, January 29, 2016

Finished Pairs of Knitted Socks #1 and 2 of 2016

  Long time no blog. But for good reason. A week ago Wednesday, I hurt my back and spent the next 6 days on the couch in pain. Last Friday, I was at urgent care having x-rays done and some strong pain meds prescribed, which was the best thing my husband has ever forced me to do. I guess helping your wife pull up her pants while she cries in pain isn't very sexy. Anyway, I'm doing better now. Haven't had to take any pain meds for a couple days but am still struggling with some things - leaning over to take food in and out of the oven still hurts, but I'm getting there. I started a new board on pinterest called, For My Achin' Back, where I'll be pinning exercises to help my back get stronger, hoping I don't ever repeat this injury. 

     I have been finishing things. I finished the socks for my SIL the day before I hurt my back. And I was able to finish the Creeper afghan for my son's birthday last Saturday. I also finished the cat scarf for my daughter and this morning I finished a second pair of socks. Guess I have been busy.

Here are the socks for my SIL. I didn't get them done in time for Christmas. My plans are to mail them next week if weather and back cooperate. 

These are super comfy. Hope she enjoys them. Yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock.

And here are the socks I finished for myself this morning. I made the first sock last year and then got distracted with gift knitting. Cast the second sock on Saturday and wove in a lot of ends today. 

Lots of stripes! These are surprisingly comfortable, even with all those woven in ends. 

I still need to do a proper photo shoot for the Creeper afghan but here's the birthday boy using it on his birthday while playing video games.

I still have several WIP's I need to finish but the yarn above and this pattern are really tempting me.

Oh, and I finally joined Instagram. You can find me, @rachel.s.brown








Monday, January 18, 2016

Lots of Weekend Progress

Instead of doing a weekly Goal Along post, I think I'll just do a monthly one. However, I had a very crafty weekend with progress on a lot of WIP's and one new project that I'd like to share today.

On Friday I finished crocheting all the granny squares for my son's afghan. His birthday is this Saturday so I have a week to put them together.

Sunday evening I wove in all those ends. Over 200 of them.

When I was done crocheting squares on Friday, my hands were ready for a different kind of craft. I started quilting a birthday quilt that I haven't shared any pictures on the blog yet, since I want it to be a surprise, but ran out of white thread. So I grabbed some of the 3 inch squares I've cut from scraps to make charity quilts and was able to make 5 more rows before I ran out of variety.

Added the 5 rows to the ones I completed last year. Or maybe the year before that? I don't want to go back into the blog archives and find out how long I've been working on these. I still have a box full of scraps waiting to be cut up. I'd really like to get the scraps cut up and the quilts sewn together this year. Last year, I was really good about cutting scraps as I finished a project which has helped the scrap box from overflowing again. This quilt needs 7 more rows and will end up 60 x 80. 

After I was done with the 3 inch squares, I took out a pile of the 2 inch squares I had cut up and made a lot of pairs.

Sunday afternoon I sewed those pairs into 4 square patches.

This morning I sewed those 4 squares into rows of 2 x 4 squares...

... and then into 16 square patches. I have enough sewn together to make 4, 12.5 inch blocks (each block is 8 x 8), and I need 5 blocks to make a row. I have 8 blocks already made which you can kind of see in the background of the picture above. I hope to finish making the blocks and sew 2 rows together this week. Maybe I'll even make 3 more blocks so I can finish the third row. I bought some batting this weekend for 60% off so once one of these charity quilt tops are complete I can start basting it.

I also made some great progress on the socks for my SIL. I didn't think I was going to have enough yarn left for a second sock so I decided to give the first sock a green toe. The second sock will also have a green toe, whether I run out of yarn or not. I am thinking of these as eggplant socks now. I think a scale will be the next yarn gadget purchase.

By Sunday evening I was starting to miss having a crochet project. My plan had been to knit this rainbow scarf but crochet is so much faster. I started it last night while watching the new PBS series Mercy Street.

This is what it will become. I saw these kits on clearance at Michael's after Christmas and bought the last 4 they had. My daughter is getting the first one and the rest will be given as gifts to nieces or friends.

And how did I get so much done? Floyd's been really good at parallel play the last few days. He is content to sit near me and play instead of having to be on my lap. It's been a nice change. Above he is sitting near me on Friday while I sewed. My table is still full of toys when I'm done, and I have to take several breaks to help open and find things but it's been nice to get something done while he's awake.

Did you have a crafty weekend?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lots of Finishes for Friday

I have several gifts I finished for Christmas that never got shared here, plus a few little finishes since the holidays. Today's post is what I've finished in the last month.

Floyd in his sweater the day I finished it, which according to ravelry was December 17th. He loved it and didn't want to take it off. Since then he has refused to wear it. Silly boy. Not sure about the neckline. I might try to alter it.

Here was the inside of the sweater before I weaved in all those ends.

The neck looks okay when lying flat but just stretches weird once he is wearing it.

Looks good from the back though.

I finished the third quilt for my mom as well. This one ended up being my favourite due to the quilting. My mom liked it so much she used it on her bed instead of the guest bed where it was intended to go.

You can see a bit of the quilting here. I used transparent thread on the top. I free-handed everything with my free-motion quilting foot. There are spirals in every corner, then loops between the spirals. Finally I free-motioned the Santa fabric.

This picture of the back really shows off the quilting. It was definitely worth the time.

Sneaked a picture of a niece wearing the Flax sweater I made her for Christmas. I made a purple one for her sister and a grey one for her brother. I finished the grey one on Christmas day (we didn't exchange gifts with them until the 27th) but didn't get a picture of the finished sweater. Perhaps you can get one for me, Michelle?

Another sneaky photo of a nephew wearing his Minecraft Creeper hat.

I finished the Pleasantville cowl for myself on December 29th. We were suppose to drive home on the 29th but we stayed an extra day when a foot of snow fell and made driving a little difficult. Above is the cowl before blocking.

And here it is after. I had been afraid I would run out of yarn but I think I ended up with enough left that I could have done an extra pattern repeat.

But I'm happy with the size it is now so I'll have to find something else to do with the bit I have leftover.

Made my son, Nova, a Minecraft Creeper hat this Monday. He wears it ALL the time.

And made some food for Floyd. A waffle and strawberries were made using this free pattern. Cucumbers are just simple crocheted circles. And the ramen noodles in the back? Made by frogging this shirt I knit last year but I never wore because I didn't like how it sat on me. 

I've also read 6 books this year and have over 80 granny squares done for the Creeper afghan. I guess it's not much of a surprise I haven't edited a thing. Maybe next week.

Have you finished anything yet this year?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WIP's - Granny Squares

I only have one WIP to share this week as it is the only WIP that I made progress on.
Granny squares. 70 of them. To stay on track I'm suppose to have 65 done by the end of today so it feels good to be ahead. 

Here they are all stacked together. Lots of ends to weave in.

Floyd for scale.

The yarn I have left. The 3 greens stacked in the back are for 27 of the squares left to make. I have 3 squares that I have to make up for after running out of some colours. Sometimes a skein made 10 squares, sometimes they only made 9. I need to decide what colour to do those 3 squares. The light green in the front is leftover from the Soft Fern squares. The bright green is the green I used in making the Creeper hat for my nephew. I'll probably go with with the soft fern but the bright green might be fun, too. What do you think? They would be replacing 2 grey squares and 1 deep forest square.
Pattern is the free Minecraft Creeper Blanket.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Today we share Bowie

In the early 2000's, my husband went through a heavy David Bowie phase and we listened to his music almost exclusively. It was David Bowie's "Kooks" and "Oh You Pretty Thing" that he sang to our infant daughter when he changed her diaper in 2002, 2003, and every time we listen to them now he reminds her. Our family was sad to hear of his passing this morning. Our now 13 year old daughter was in tears before leaving for school. As I listened and watched Bowie videos on Youtube, I remembered that during that time I had written a poem inspired by Bowie lyrics. I thought I would share it here today.

The Space Oddity of an Earthling

I am an ant
on an asteroid
careening
and screaming
through space.
I am so tiny
so miniscule
I am obsolete.
Centuries upon
centuries
and
evolution has only
brought us this far.
I drive
my little red car,
nuclear family
on board.
And I listen
as God
sings to me.

All these pretty things
change.
I am nothing

but stardust.

written December 9th, 2002

(editing note: I added no words to the original poem today, just some punctuation to help with flow/ pauses. I did alter the title which had been "A Space Oddity")

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

WIP's - Yarn Edition

Have you finished reading yesterday's post yet? Sheesh, that was a long one. Quick post today to show some of my yarn WIP's.

I mentioned yesterday that I was making a Minecraft Creeper afghan for my older son's birthday later this month. The original is knitted and made with 100 squares. I think it would take me forever to knit 100 squares but when I saw that several people had crocheted their afghans and that they still looked good, I decided to do that, too. I bought the yarn at Michael's on New Year's Eve and figured I need to make 5 squares a day. That gives me 2 days to stitch them all together to gift the afghan to him on the 23rd. So far I have kept up, but I would like to get ahead and maybe start putting rows together. This is the first 17 squares (10 in forest, 7 in grass) with my list of how many I need of each colour.

Here are the squares yesterday. 10 forest, 10 grass and the first soft fern square. I had 5 soft ferns done by the time I went to bed last night. 

Went through scraps and came up with several greens and greys to join the squares together.

 
Yarn waiting. That's a lot of crocheting.

I also mentioned the Thermal Tunic in yesterday's post. I'd stare longing at the bag that held the yarn for this sweater while I knit Christmas gifts. So happy I brought a skein of the yarn along when we visited family last month so I could cast on during our last full day there and knit on it while we drove home. Still have a long way to go.

And I showed this yesterday to break up the words a bit but thought I would show it again. You might remember that I was making the Koda socks for my SIL. They seemed too tight so I frogged them. On December 25th. Then cast on these plain socks. I had hoped to get the first one done before we saw her on the 27th but that didn't happen. I've knit a few rows since we've been home but all I want to do right now is crochet more squares for the afghan. 

What have you been working on now that the holidays are over? Something for yourself, I hope.



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Goal Along and My Word for 2016

     Doing something a little different this year to help me focus. Last year I made no real goals and I didn't give myself a word for 2015. I went in with the idea to make the year about improving myself but didn't really give myself a way to measure that. Near the end of 2015, I asked myself if I could give 2015 a word what would it be? The first word that came to mind was disappointment. At the end of the year I didn't feel I had grown in any area of my life. I still hadn't finished editing a novel - I had started editing 2 but that was it. I had made a list of projects I liked to complete and had it as a separate page on this blog (it will be changing to my 2016 goals soon) but every time I updated projects I did complete or books I had read, I thought about all the other things I had planned to do in 2015 and felt like a failure. My ambitions were too big and unrealistic with the time I could spare. 

When I read Sarah's post on Imagined Landscapes about a Goal Along I really liked the idea of breaking goals down into steps for each month or even each week. And it's only for the first four months of the year. If at the end of April I don't feel this is working for me, I don't need to make goals for the next 4 months, I can do something else.

But I'm going to give this a try. Sarah suggested picking 3-5 areas that we'd like to focus on and then break those areas down into monthly goals to help keep ourselves accountable. Right now, most of the discussion is in her ravelry group but if you aren't on ravelry (and you don't need to be a knitter to participate), she will have posts on her blog that you can read and comment on as well. I'm going to start with weekly Goal Along blog posts on Mondays. Once the kids return to school each week, I find Monday is my day to regroup. I look back on what I did the week before and what I need or want to do in the week ahead.
Here are the four areas I have decided to work on for the first four months of 2016.

1. Writing.
     This seems like an obvious one. For a couple years now I have talked about wanting to be a writer. First I need to change how I think of myself. I don't want to be a writer, I am a writer. Second, I need to finish editing a novel and get it out into the world. My writing goal is to finish editing a novel and also work on polishing and submitting some poetry. Here is how I will break it down.

Novel
January - edit 4-5 chapters a week 
February - reread novel, make notes about what needs to be added or taken away and fix it. Continue to edit spelling/ grammar, etc... as I read.
March - look for a few readers to read the current draft and give me comments in return. 
April - finish making edits so it is ready to be sent out to agents/ publishers 

Poetry
Weekly - revise 3 poems
Monthly - send out 3 submissions 

2. Crafts
     It's no secret I love to create. I knit, I quilt, I crochet. We are fairly certain that we are moving the summer of 2017 so a big part of my crafting this year is stash busting my yarn and fabric. I've done really well not buying fabric the last couple years as I do a lot more knitting than quilting now but the yarn stash keeps growing. Here are my crafty goals.

Knitting
More selfish knitting. Of the 11 pairs of socks I knit last year, I gave 7 away. My sock drawer is in desperate need of more socks. 

January - is all about finishing WIP's like the socks for my SIL above that were suppose to be for Christmas (oops). Other WIP's to finish are a pair of socks for myself (first sock is done), Pi Shawl, Mystery KAL shawl, Minecraft Creeper afghan for my son's birthday (has a deadline of the 22nd)
February - finish Thermal Tunic for myself. After knitting 4 sweaters and a cardigan as Christmas presents, I started this one at the end of December as a selfish knit that I can't realistically try to finish in January.
March - another pair of socks for myself and a cowl for me too.
April - to be decided.

Quilting
January - mini quilt that is a birthday gift
             - lap quilt that is a birthday gift
February - finish snowman face quilt
March - finish Cuzco quilt
April - a quilt for Floyd (our toddler who turns 3 beginning of May)


Food for Floyd
For Christmas, Floyd was gifted a set of play dishes. Since he is our last, I didn't want to spend money buying him a play kitchen so I painted 2 boxes to give him an oven, stove, fridge, sink and cupboard. He really likes washing and drying his dishes. He loves playing with his kitchen but has no food. This is just a short term goal but I wanted to remember that I need to do it.

January - make 2-3 different foods for Floyd each week
February - evaluate if he needs/ wants more.

3. Health
     One of the things I did last year but didn't share here or with anyone until the end of the year, was how much I was doing yoga and exercising at home. I felt very self conscious about it. I bought myself a couple sets of hand weights and have a secret pinterest board where I pin different workouts and yoga routines. I don't know why I hid it. Both are good things for me. It is the only goal last year  that I found a good way to keep myself accountable. I printed off a free calendar and marked the days I did yoga or exercised. 

Here is the calendar. When I think I didn't do yoga at all the year before and that I can't remember the last I time I purposely exercised it's not bad. When the kids were home in the summer I definitely did less and I gave myself a break in December so I had more time for gift making. You might be able to read my totals at the end of the year - I did yoga 53 times and exercised 65 times. The Mondays where I did both is due to the new yoga class my friend and I started going to last fall. It's the best/hardest yoga class I've ever done and it leaves us dripping in sweat (it's not hot yoga, just a Vinyasa flow class). I figure if I sweat like that, it also counts as a workout.
I will continue to focus on eating better this year. I have tried to give up pop completely in the past but always end up failing. I need to allow it as a treat and not feel bad about it. Here is how my health goals break down.

Yoga - 2-3 times a week
Exercise - 3-4 times a week
Pop - no more than 1can a week

I think I need consistency so I am not aiming to increase the number of times I do yoga/ exercise but that they become a regular part of my life.

4. Blogging
I enjoy blogging but it's a lot of work. I don't know if people who don't write blogs realize how much time this takes. Today's post is unusually long and I've already spent over two hours on it. Last year is the most I have ever blogged. I have a second blog I write that is just about our family for all our relatives in Canada that's just over 10 years old now. Between the two I wrote over 200 blog posts last year. I was able to schedule some blog posts in 2015 but I need to get better at that. I also find I get blog fatigue quickly. I want to post but don't have the energy to do it. I had been doing a post every Sunday where I shared links to interesting things I have found on the internet during the past week but it became stressful to find stuff and have the post up Sunday morning. I might bring it back in some way because I do enjoy sharing but I burned out doing it every week. 

Again I think consistency is key and doing regular, slightly predictable posts would be good.
Weekly - 1 post about WIP's (if I have several yarn and fabric WIP's, this could be broken into 2 separate posts.)
            - 1 post with finishes (if I have any to share)
            - Monday post about Goal Along
Monthly - write up 1 tutorial/ pattern and have it free on my blog
               - blog post about what I read each month

January - update Goal page 
February - add icons on sidebar that link to twitter/ pinterest/ etc...
March - ?
April - ?

    
     Okay, I think that's it for Goals. 

     In the title of this post I mentioned that I had a word for 2016. As I wrote this post, I was thinking I should change my word to Focus, but it doesn't feel right. My word for 2016 is...
... Be.
Just, Be.

I want to take the pressure off myself this year and enjoy life. If I don't make any of my goals, I need that to be okay. It isn't really a big deal if I knit another 6 pairs of socks for myself this year. It would be nice but not the end of the world if I don't. In the past I have gotten too down on myself for not completing goals and that doesn't help me or my family. Just saying the word Be to myself when I start to feel stressed, relaxes me. My shoulders drop down, even though I didn't realize they were up.

My real goal for 2016? I don't want to feel like the year was a disappointment at the end of it. When I look back on 2016 in December I want to feel that I did my best. I was kind to myself when I needed it and loved my family. Everything else ... will just Be.



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