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A Return to Balance

As the cold begins to creep in and the days shorten to make way for long, dark nights, I find that I miss the old constant clicking of my needles and the feel of soft wools running through my fingers. I miss pouring over notes and fragments of patterns, stringing them together to get the sizing and stitches just right. I want to design sweaters and hats and mittens, knitting day and night while I catch up on a sci-fi series or re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Once I made the leap from knitter to writer, I threw myself into writing. I spend hours and hours typing away at the computer with instrumental music as my constant companion. But now, I realize that balance is important. I set knitting aside as a hobby that I didn’t have time for instead of realizing that it was a part of my whole, and had become so much more than just a hobby. And I don’t want to ignore that side of me anymore. I want to enjoy the experience, design new patterns and rejoin my fellow knitters as we work through patterns and discuss our love of yarns. I want to balance my love of writing with my love of knitting. In short, I want to do it all. I have a new schedule and a gorgeous new sweater I am working on to the delight of my Whovian daughter. For any of those who know a girl who dreams of adventures with the Doctor and strange trips to distant times and planets, who asks for fish fingers and custard for dinner, who brandishes a sonic screwdriver to fight off Daleks, stay tuned for the forthcoming sweater “The Girl who Waited”. I may not have been waiting for the Doctor to come and whisk me away on adventures (well, not too much anyway), but it has another meaning for me as well as the girl who waited to learn how to balance her life. The sweater is in the test knit phase now and will soon be polished and ready for release, and you won’t have to wait nearly as long as Amy Pond.

Jessica

The Elder

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News brief first:

On May 6th, my boyfriend Chris and I took a day trip to Chicago and spent the day wandering around Lincoln Park Zoo and Navy Pier.  At sunset, at the end of the pier, Chris knelt before me and proposed, slipped the ring on my finger, and became my loving fiance!  To add to our joys, we are also expecting our first little bundle of joy, due December 14th, 2011.  You all know what that means… BABY KNITTING!  YIPPEE!

On a not-so-joyous note, I did manage to break my foot over the 4th of July weekend, and am in a bright blue cast until the 3rd week of August, which means I spend most of my time sitting with my foot up.  Which also means that I have almost unlimited time for knitting! (minus work and the social events I drag myself to on crutches)

So what’s on the July Christmas knitting list?  Lots of secrets- you know, the pros and cons of having friends and family read your blog is that you can’t reveal the WIPs that are going to be gifts for them…

Enough about things I can’t talk about… let’s talk about things I can’t explain.

We’ve all experienced the mysterious sock thief, that inexplicable disappearance of a single sock from a pair.  The theft always occurs in the hour or so between loading the wet clothes into the dryer, and folding them after they’ve been dried and fluffed, with the lingering hope that those warm, spring scented articles will fill drawers and closets.  Yet, inevitably, one sock will appear, stricken with grief at the loss of its mate, never to be seen again.  It’s a mystery that seems fated to remain that- a complete mystery.  But what of the other thefts?  Car keys, sunglasses, favorite ink pens… where do these items wind up?  Who steals them?  I, for one, think it’s the Brownies.  Those impish little elves that make their homes in the forgotten in-between places of our houses- they, I think, are the ones who sneak in and grab our misplaced things and make them their own, turning keys and bits of string and pencils into whatever they can create. Socks, for one, provide the perfect sheet of fabric for clothing, bedding, curtains… At least, that’s what I imagine.

The mystery that I would like explained now is what of missing knitting projects?  Who steals the half-knit stocking, the unfinished book cover, the barely begun sweater?  I’m miffed.  I was at least 6 inches into the back piece for my brother’s aran sweater.  Progress was good, I was finishing at least an inch a day and was well on my way to finishing it in time for St. Patrick’s day.  And suddenly, without warning, it was gone.  The entire 6 inches of knitting, and the US8 circulars I was using, disappeared.  I looked in all of my bags, anything with yarn in it. I pulled out the boxes of stashed yarn with layers of dust on them, dug through bags of old projects and searched every inch of my bedroom, and the craft drawers.  Nothing.  No sign of it.  I asked my sister, thinking perhaps I brought it there and forgot to put it in my bag when I left.  Nothing amidst her piles of yarn either.  I asked my brother, remembering that I had been working on it on his couch in the winter, and maybe somehow one of the nieces carried it away to “help”.  Nothing.  It just vanished. What yarn thief is so desperate for Malabrigo Twist that they’d steal the knitting from the needles? AND the needles to boot?!  I was so devastated at the loss of my WIP that I stopped knitting completely.  (This, of course, had nothing to do with getting engaged, my brother’s wedding, or finding out that I was pregnant.)

I was distraught.  Then, to add insult to injury, when I had finally completed the appropriate mourning period for lost projects, I decided it was time to cast on.  I went back to the bag, pulled out a new skein of Twist, and found another set of needles.  But the thief had not been content with just stealing the project.  Oh no, he had to go so far as to steal the PATTERN as well!  Stuck, knitting lost, pattern missing, and the impossible task of finding where on my computer I had saved it ahead of me, I felt completely beaten.

It’s been nearly 4 months since the incident and I’ve recovered somewhat.  I have managed to find the pattern and print a new copy, sans-notes, and have cast on again.  I still wonder, though, where that knitting is now, if it’s been treated with care, even finished perhaps, and is living as some vest or hat or scarf to be enjoyed by someone else.  I miss it still.  So if you happen to see someone with an unfinished sweater back on a US8 circular needle, knit in Malabrigo Twist natural, think of me and pray your projects never fall pray to the thievery I have suffered.

Is it Fall yet?

It seems to be a pattern with the two of us to keep posting regularly for a period of time, then quite suddenly quit.  Maybe it’s a seasonal thing?  I’ll blame the summer.   It seems a waste of precious time to sit at home on the computer and type about life and knitting; especially when the weather is so warm that knitting anything, no matter what fiber content, is so far from comfortable that (dare I say it?) I don’t want to knit.

::Pause for gasps and exclamations of horror::

All right, settle down.  I know it’s impossible to even imagine a time when knitting has no part of daily life.  But hey, it happens sometimes!  Life gets in the way.  I have nearly a year of catch-up to play here, so I’ll stick with the basics and then move on the redeeming part of this post.

I spent a few weeks traveling to bring in the new year.  My dear friend Rachel and I flew to Seattle, took a bus to Vancouver, B.C. and spent a week there.  It was an amazing trip and a blurb in a post in no way can do it justice, but suffice it to say I left a piece of my soul in Vancouver.  We then returned to the States for a night and day spent in Portland, OR.   From there I took the red-eye  on a half-day travel excursion that eventually ended in Orlando, FL for a week and 1/2 vacation in Disney World with a small portion of my family.  (Coldest Disney Vacation ever.  32 F, and we still went swimming.)

After traveling across the country, I spent a semester finishing my writing degree, graduated in May, and made the glorious move from my own apartment back into my parent’s house.  They’re so proud.  Summer has been psychotically busy with birthdays, weekend camping trips, graduation parties, job hunting, and puppy training.

I’ll wrap up this post with a self-promoting blurb about a play I wrote coming to the Chicago stage sometime this December (more info to come), and the redeeming mention of cooler weather bringing on the knitting fever again.  I’ll have projects and pictures to post soon, I promise!

The Younger

Mystery BlanketFor the last oh, about 8 years, I have been a stay at home mom. I was going to school also, earning my degree while raising my 2 kids. But, for the last 3 years, I have been first and foremost a mom. I have an English degree with a minor in Women’s Studies that has sat moldering while my student loans accrue interest. Well that is all about to change. The last few months have been tough on me mentally. My son is going into Kindergarten next fall and my life will change drastically. We can’t afford for me to stay at home anymore, not with the looming debt of my loans and the hope of buying a house in the not-to-distant future. I have tried my hand at a few different “projects” during these years without any real effort going toward them. I recently attained my Substitute teaching license, thinking “great! I can do that and not have to worry about missing days, calling in sick because the kids are sick, and work when I want to!”  That seemed like a good plan right? Well, sure, except that with the economy the way it is, I’m not the only person it seems to have this idea.  I have been told that, sure I can apply, but, well, the lists are full. Ok…so where to next? This is the question that keeps me up at nights, that makes me stress out, neglect my house (because, really, who doesn’t want an excuse to not clean?!),  and spend as much time as I can playing with my kids, reading, and knitting, trying to push it all to the back and ignore the fact Embossed Leaves Socksthat I can’t NOT work for much longer. And my other fallback plan of winning the lottery seems to be less likely than getting into a school district to sub. Recently, I made a list of what I would like to do, and what I can do to make that a reality. I have a degree, but no experience. I would love to freelance as a writer, copy editor, or proofreader. I also want to continue my work as a designer. The 3 C’s are what I know: Crafts, Children, Creativity. I also know the Big P: Procrastination. Now, some people look at procrastination and think it’s a bad thing. For me, procrastination is what lights the fire under my ass and makes me work hard. My procrastination for the last 3 years is what is making me realize that if I don’t want to get a 9-5 and have to worry about taking days off of work to stay home with sick kids, buying new clothes that I can actually go to a “real” job in, and missing my entire Summer of kids, then I need to forget all about that aspect and focus on what I love. Get my name out there. Set time aside everyday, even if it’s at 10:00 at night and I am ready to crawl into bed, to work on my dream. So that is where I go from here. I have 6 months to prove to myself, and my husband (who has been nothing but supportive of my myriad adventures into the creative workforce) that I CAN do this. 6 months to show that I have a future in what I love. Now, I am not unrealistic in this. I am fully prepared for tons of disappointment, rejections, and frustrations. And that’s ok, because if raising kids has taught me anything, it is that life is full of frustrations and rejection, and plans falling into the abyss, as well as tons of fun, happiness, mistakes, conquests, scrapes and tears, and a million do-overs. So how’s that for experience? There’s nothing that the workforce can throw at me that is tougher to deal with than what 7 years of kids has thrown at me. I am armed with a pot of coffee, an organized desk, a checklist, and determination. I’m ready to work…at home.

Pictures: The Procrastination Mystery Blanket of my own design, started in 08 and recently picked back up.

Embossed Leaves Socks from the Favorite Socks book, started in the spring.

The Forthcoming pattern that my kids have named The Snow Club Hat. I am finishing up the pattern and will have it released by the start of the Olympics.

For all those who have thought about buying a pattern, now is the time!  50% of all profits from pattern sales are going to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at least through the end of February, to help in Haiti. And even if you don’t want one of our patterns, please look on Ravelry through the Help for Haiti Patterns. These are all designers who are pledging part of their profits to Haitian Relief efforts and every little bit helps. You can make a difference and have something beautiful to show for it!

New Pics for Loppem!

Because I’m tired, and it’s late, and I just don’t want to ruin the prettiness of these photos, this is all I’m going to say.

Loppem- Bird's EyeLoppem- button detailLoppem-yoke detailLoppem- ParkLoppem- Park Bench

Becki

The Younger

As promised, here’s a few photos to start off the post.

in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Violetas

Dejavu Handwarmers in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Violetas

In Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Dejavu

Dejavu Handwarmers in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, colorway Dejavu

Now, on to the Karmic Kick.

About a month ago, I went out with some friends to a bar.  It’s the kind of campus bar that is sort of a bar/club hybrid, so there’s loud(er) music and dancing going on every floor of this place.  I had gotten all gussied up, short dress over tight jeans with a pair of adorable short leather high heel boots.  My hair was styled, make-up on– completely NOT my normal self.  I ended up dancing with this guy in our group, and when the night ended, he asked me for my phone number.  Now, I’m not sure if it was the booze, or the lack of oxygen in such a crowded place, but somewhere in my brain I decided that he wasn’t really my type.  I politely declined (at least, I hope I did it politely…) and left.

Fast forward to today.  I’m decked out in what is more typical to my daily life: jeans, hand knit socks, winter boots, an oversized grey knitted sweater, hair pulled back in a pony tail and my favorite White Sox cap on top.  Make-up?  What’s make-up?  I’m at the grocery store, just having packed my cart with a month’s worth of food and cat supplies, and I’m ready to check out.  I push my cart in line behind this guy, who has a few select items.  Bread, milk, eggs, lunch meat, microwavable dinners… typical fare for a college kid.  He’s tall, a little lanky, with reddish hair, and glasses that complete that dorky cuteness.  I thought I knew him from somewhere, and I was running through the people I have classes with in my head when I get this flash in my mind.  Me, dolled up with his arm around me. The words “Can I get your cell number?” ring in my ears, and I’m stunned.  Here I am, stuck in line at a register with a snail of a clerk running it, and the guy that I had so easily dismissed standing in front of me.

It’s an awkward 15 minutes, and I’m pretty sure despite the change in dress, he recognizes me.  We never say anything, and barely make eye contact with each other.  The whole time I’m mentally kicking myself for that casual dismissal.  I mean, this attractive guy asked me for my number, and I didn’t give it to him!

That is one Karmic kick in the ass.

Becki

The Younger

Well, thanks Jessica for overcoming your stomach issues to down an Irish carbomb with me.

And thank you Jonah, Erin, Kristine, Josh, Jessica, Chris, Rachael, Isaac, Virginia, Steph, Alana, Candice, Dan, Matt, Ron, Nicole, Wendell, and of course the Irish guy named Martin from the bar— this was truly an epic birthday.

Just to sum up the night, my wonderful siblings threw a surprise party at the Forge in Blue Island (just south of Chicago) since I “wouldn’t let them” throw me one last year for my 21st. The night started with a brand new outfit (and ridiculously good-looking heels), a lot of awesome people, and free drinks for the birthday girl. Remember how I was calling in my marker for the Irish Carbomb with Jessica? Right. Well. 3 carbombs, 4 shots, and a never ending pint of Smithwick’s later….

…I was still standing?! Don’t know how that one happened, but lucky me I still remember the night (with a few fuzzy parts) and all of its epic glory.
{———@
Knit-wise:
Finished my pair of handwarmers, and after leaving one (accidentally) at the optometrist, made a sale on another pair for one of the clerks! I should have those finished by the end of the week, and that means some extra pocket cash.

I’ll have pictures of them up soon, as well as a link to the free pattern.

Becki
The Tiybfwe
(or Younger, if I were to hit the right keys on the keyboard)