Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm Back!

It has been forever since I have blogged. What can I say - life happens. I have been very busy with family, work and fiber. I probably could have blogged but didn't. I did a lot of facebook posts instead. A bit easier when things are crazy busy.

But I am back. But I have a reason to be back. I am about to embark on an adventure. I hope it will be a fun adventure. Only time will tell. It starts tomorrow. I hope to capture as much of it as possible here on the blog so I can readily share with friends and family. It promises lots of pictures and hopefully some interesting writing.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why I love Christmas

In the spirit of one of the greatest holiday movies of all times, A Christmas Story, I have decided to write A Theme. But instead of writing about what I want for Christmas, mine is about why I love Christmas. You see – I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. I love the tree, the music, the decorations inside and out, the giving and receiving of gifts, Santa, the reindeer and all the other trappings surrounding this festive holiday. Most of all I love the magic of Christmas and Santa Clause. See, I have a confession. I believe in Santa Clause. I believe with all my heart and soul that Santa exists and his purpose is to bring joy to children around the world. I don’t know if he really lives at the North Pole or has elves or flies in a sleigh with magic reindeer, but I know that Santa is real.

I consider myself very fortunate to still retain this magic and this belief. It has kept Christmas in perspective for me over the years. I am not religious so this is not about the birth of a child under a star in the dessert. However, I recognize and appreciate the magic that aspect of Christmas holds for many but I think it is for the same reason I find magic in Christmas. The baby Jesus story is about bringing hope, joy, love and peace to the world. This is Christmas. A time to sit back and enjoy hope, joy, love and peace. And maybe eat some pumpkin pie just as a topper.

So for me Christmas is magic because it has the ability to bring people together share for one day all those wonderful feelings of hope, joy, love and peace. I remember Christmas Eve as I was growing up – it was always a huge family event. Everyone would come to our house for dinner, games and, of course, a visit from Old St. Nick himself. I loved that visit. When I was very little it was so unbearably exciting to wait for Santa to come through the door with his bag of toys. As we got older we realized that Santa was a busy man so he usually got some help here from my dad but it didn’t lessen the joy of the moment. Now that I am a parent I am thrilled to watch my son anticipate the impending arrival of the jolly man in red. Yes, he is excited about receiving new toys but is that really all bad? When you think about it, he spends over a month anticipating and dreaming of Christmas morning. There is pure joy on his face – joy that is brought by the mere thought of this jolly elf. Again, I ask, is a few new toys really that much of a price to pay for a season of joy?

I am making sure to try to balance out his expectations to make my son realize its not about getting. Its about the magic. Every year we go out and buy toys for the Toys for Tots boxes. I make sure my son picks out toys and puts them in the box. At the same time we have long discussions about why these boxes are so important. I also have been conducting toy drives at work for local children in the DCF system. For two weeks my son has watched my come home from work every day with toys and presents. We talk about how these toys are going to go to children who might not otherwise get any toys on Christmas morning. Its about giving to others so that other children can have the same hope and joy.

I realize that this is why I believe in Santa. I believe in Santa enough to go out and ensure that there are toys for children. I realized that this is how Santa manages to get to all the children in one night. He has so many believers helping him out that all the children of the world who celebrate this holiday receive a visit from Santa or his helper. Santa is magic. Its not about changing the world, but about just one small moment on one day and bringing a smile to a child’s face.

My tree is up and decorated – it was such fun to sit and watch my son pick through the ornaments finding his favorites and hanging them on the tree. The train is under the tree. My son loves to run the train. The Elf on the Shelf has been making his nightly trip since Thanksgiving. The shopping is done. I didn’t go crazy and I have no reason to go to the mall. For now, I can just sit back and enjoy the season, watch all my favorite holiday movies, listen to Christmas music and watch my son experience the magic. This is why I love Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

So its been a year

Ok - not quite a year since my last blog but, meh, its my blog right? I let it go mostly cause I was super busy and distracted with other things. Oh and not so good on the new years resolutions but we will revisit that at the official end of 2010.

High points so far this year - lots of travel - Hawaii, Arizona, Japan. Way too much time in Hawaii. I think it was five trips this year. So over that. Japan was fun - so much so that I may be seeing more of it in the near future.

So back to the mundane. Finally feeling human again - I spent a week in Japan for work and coming home I picked up some sort of bug - personally I am calling it a Japanese superbug - basically it was foreign to me and it hit me hard. I normally can take some cold drugs and work through almost any illness but not this one. No - this one was an on your back, in bed, lose all touch with reality cold. I swear I only vaguely remember this past week. I attempted to go in to work on one day but that only lasted a few hours - then back to bed. So the only problem with this - Japan is 13 hours ahead. So I came home adjusted to Japan time - then promptly got super sick and my body demanded sleep when it wanted it. So since I was so focused (or should I say lack of focus) on just giving my body what it needed to feel human again, I have not changed timezones. So now that I feel human again I apparently am still on Japan time. Yep - up all night. Today is going to really suck. But at least it will suck because I think I can finally force myself to stay awake to change my body clock instead of succumbing to the fog of the cold from hell.

On the plus side I did a lot of reading when I wasn't passed out, which was kind of nice. Not a lot of knitting because I couldn't manage much focus - but I did knock out a square for a blanket I am contributing to - simple garter stitch on size 3 needles - I could handle that - very mindless. Wow, can't believe I am thinking how big size 3 needles are :) actually it was the yarn that made the difference since this has been the year of lace. I have been making a lace shawl this year with laceweight - its like knitting with thread - but I have found I enjoy lace because it challenges the mind. But no lace this week. Too foggy in the head.

I want to see if I can get back to my blogging. Lots is about to happen - nothing I want to share until the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed - but it promises to give me some good blogging fodder if for nothing else than to preserve some pretty cool memories.

How about a picture to close it off?

This is a very rare picture - I actually had my friend take it of me which I almost never allow - I am a complete behind the camera kind of girl. But something about the wind and the cold and the fact that I love this new jacket made me feel like getting my picture taken. This is me on the Sea of Japan - it was my first time seeing it and I was seriously impressed. It was a chilly, windy day and the sea was temperamental but not too angry, but I can see where it probably gets fierce during the winter. It was an amazing site and I think I fell a little in love with it. I can't wait to see its many moods (ok - thats sort of a hint of things to come)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year! Welcome 2010.

Happy New Year to all! In looking back, 2009 was a very busy year. I feel like I spent the year playing catch up! The year just flew by. But overall I think it was a good year. No major accomplishments that I can think of but at the same time, no major problems. It was a year filled with work, travel (for work), knitting, spinning, and reading. I also watched my son grow so much this year. He started kindergarten and has really developed in to his own little person. He is proving to be reasonably smart and very friendly. I am quite enjoying him right now, even if he is also developing that little bit of attitude that comes with discovering that he is a stand alone person capable of making decisions. Its quite funny at times but we have to keep on him to keep him balanced. But overall he is just a joyous little boy.
So 2010 is here. I have been thinking a lot about resolutions, cause it is that time after all. I realize people have different opinions on resolutions but I kind of like the idea of setting a goal and measuring myself against my goal. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. Last year I wanted to read 52 books in the year. I am not sure if I made it or not because I stopped counting midway through the year. I think I came close. I tend to read a lot. This year I am also going to set some goals and one of them is to do a better job tracking my results. So check back this time next year to see how I do.

So for 2010 I have the following goals:
1. Give up chocolate - I love chocolate way too much. Its time to take a break. I have done this before so I know I can do it again. But if I am cranky for a few weeks, just remember its the chocolate speaking.
2. Spin every day - even if only for a few minutes. I really want to take my spinning to the next level and learn how to make the yarn I want. I need practice to get there. The only time this might be a problem is when I am traveling. If I can take a spindle I will but otherwise I will give myself a grace period when I travel.
3. Walk on the treadmill every day - again even if only for a few minutes. I need to get back in the habit of exercise and I need to make my treadmill more than just a piece of furniture. The minimum each day will be 10 minutes. Again, when I travel this could be a problem. Most of the hotels I stay at have gyms or I can go outside but in the event that neither is an option (no gym and not safe to walk alone outside) I will get a pass ... but only if I have no choice. And I have to document why. Oh - this one also gets a pass if by chance I get sick because this goal is about getting healthier and taking care of my body. But again - document!!!
4. Read 52 books - I figure I will try this again but do better at tracking. With my Kindle I can at least add a note on each book of what day I started and finished the book. Maybe that will help.

OK - so those are my "must do" goals. I am committed to these and feel that these are "doable".

I also have some "like to do" goals. If I can manage these I will be happy, but if I have to drop something these will be able to go.
1. Knit a mini sock a week. This would get me a good stash of mini-socks for the holidays next year. I can hang them on the tree and give them away as decorations.
2. Knit a log cabin square a month to make progress on my blanket.
3. Complete all my current WIPs. Right now in Ravelry I have 10 WIPs: Fluke, Handspun Hat, Domus Aurea, Twilight Scarf, Log Cabin Blanket, Flying Swirl, Fancy Mitts, Mini Firestarters, Forest Canopy and Luce Scarf.
4. Complete the Girasole Project - this is a big endeavor. I want to spin, dye and then knit the Girasole blanket. Not only is this a lot of yarn but I want to spin it woolen (which I am not so good at yet) and to a specific size. This will take lots of practice before I can spin the final product.

Hmmmm - I think that is enough! At least for this year. Lets see how I do. At least I am starting with the right intentions - I have taken the first step, hopefully the rest will follow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Girasole Project

Yep - I have been a bad blogger. Its been a very busy time. Lots of work, trying to find time to knit, not much else happening. So that's the past several months in a nutshell.

That said, I have a new project in mind that I figure I can track here on the blog. I fell in love with Girasole, a wonderful pattern by Jared Flood, aka BrooklynTweed, who is a brilliant designer with an amazing eye for pattern and color. I want to make the blanket version and I am already envisioning curling up with it in front of the fire. I would best describe this pattern as a cheerful yet elegant piece with the sunflower pattern bringing summer indoors year round.

I have had the privilege of seeing the pattern in progress and know it is going to be a serious commitment piece. As the rounds get larger it can take 45 minutes or more to complete a single round. This is not a fast piece but the results seem well worth it. Since I am going to essentially marry this piece for quite some time I have decided that this is going to become my own personal show piece, an heirloom item I can pass on to the grandchild I hope my son will someday provide (since he is five now I have plenty of time to finish). To that end I have also decided to go whole hog and make this a sheep to blanket piece. Yes, I intend to spin the 1800 yards this pattern requires. I still have plenty of Cormo left from the two fleece I bought a couple years ago. All I need to do is finish cleaning it and spin it up! Sounds easy ~ right? OK maybe not quite that easy.

I consider myself an advanced beginner spinner. I have mastered the intuitive spin and I can spin a fairly even yarn. I just upgraded from my Babe to an Ashford Traditional and have noticed a significant difference in my ability to control my yarn. The Babe is an excellent starter wheel and I intend to use it to teach my son to spin, but I found myself wanting "more" ~control, speed, flexibility. I have had my Ashford for a couple months now and easily see the difference. To make this blanket, though, I need to produce a predictable, repeatable yarn that has the characteristics I desire. This means taking my spinning beyond intuitive to intentional. I think I am ready. More important, I am patient. I have given myself all winter to spin the yarn and plan on knitting come Spring. I expect this blanket to be complete before next winter. I think that's manageable.

I have decided its time to put some of my skills in place to get to my goal. As a quality professional, I understand the value of a repeatable process to get a predictable outcome. I know this starts with understanding the end ~ ie clearing documenting my requirements. Then breaking down all the steps and identifying my learning gaps to enable me to meet my requirements. The requirements are going to drive every decision I make in this project. Do I want a warm fluffy blanket or a light blanket that shows off the pattern? Until I decide this I can't select the type of yarn I want to spin. So the first thing I need to do is look at the completed projects on Ravelry and maybe talk to some other knitters for information.

As a quality professional I am also exposed to quite a bit of project management as a control tool. So I will also set a project plan to plan and track my progress. This is going to be an interesting project on many levels - not only to make a beautiful piece of art, but to see how to incorporate my many passions (quality, knitting, spinning, dying, planning) to create this project.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PhatFiber Fair Box Rocks!

Its been a busy summer. I will blog about it later but for now I want to share the awesome box I got from PhatFiber
"Phat Fiber is a mystery box of awesome samples for the yarn and fiber enthusiast in us all. With a focus on the independant artisan, this box is a super grass-roots treat for the senses. " That's from the PhatFiber website.
So, to get the box you have to be lucky and quick! She only puts a few up and they go up on a specific day at specific times. We get an email alerting us to when the boxes go up. Then you go in to etsy and see if you can snag a box. This is the first time I have actually gotten a box and let me say it was worth it. 
This month the theme was "At the Fair" so everything had was related to something you might find at a summer fair. I got lots of yarn samples in fair colors, and fiber samples that were fair related - my favorite was the fibery goodness packed up as a snowcone. There were also some patterns and stitch markers - including an adorable watermelon stitch marker. I can't wait to try it all out and then visit some of the wonderful folks who create all these goodies and get more. Most of all, I love this way of getting introduced to new independents and finding more wonderful small fibery goodness sellers to support. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm Back and Still Wondering What Happened to Summer

So I know I have been remiss in my blogging but with good reason. I have been busy. You know - work and stuff. After I returned from Hawaii we decided to send DH and the young one to San Diego to visit Grandma and Grandpa and take care of a few things with the house we still own out there. So off they went for three weeks, which left me with plenty of free time to catch up on housecleaning and maybe play a bit. Or so I thought. First of all about a week into their trip I get "the phone call" - you know the one every mom doesn't want to get. "Hi Honey, we are headed to urgent care, but don't worry its not too serious". Sigh. Well, at least relatively speaking it wasn't too serious - just a broken arm. Sigh. But young one took it like a trooper and it really didn't phase him once he was casted. Oh the resiliency of children. Then it was my turn making the call. "Hi Honey, do you mind if I am not here to pick you up from the airport?" I got pulled on to last minute travel to Israel of all places. So while they were coming back from San Diego, I was headed off around the world. It was a quick trip but I did get to spend some time at the Dead Sea (wow - they really do mean you float) and visited the Masada. I even got some knitting in and took my Loopy Ewe postcard for some shots of Loopy at the lowest place on earth. What was most ironic was I was knitting on a skein of Noro making a log cabin square and the aqua color in the Noro matched the Dead Sea. I will always think of that trip when I look at this square. The only other observation about the trip is that I now understand the color "Mediterranean Blue". When we flew in to Tel Aviv I was looking out the window and the Mediterranean is the most amazing blue. I have never seen that color - it was truly breathtaking. I wish I could go spend more time on the Mediterranean Sea. 
So now we are all back in the same time zone and hoping to keep it that way for awhile.

Now - onto some more good stuff. I got my package in the mail from my Saucy Swap partner, Ponyknits. It was wonderful.
Isn't it just chock full of goodies? The yarn is so pretty - it is Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed. It is a mix of Wool, Alpaca and Donegal - yes it has actual tweed flecks in there. It is so soft and so pretty.  I have to decide on socks or scarf. I kind of think this wants to be a scarf to show off the tweed. Its that pretty. Then there is the yummy Hersheys - which are actually one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Ok - I like all the Godiva, See's, etc in the more designer chocolate world, but honestly I really appreciate good old Hershey's - its got a melt in your mouth appeal that I really like. And it is perfect snack size. Then there is a bag of peanuts which my son immediately wanted to open. I can't wait to try the mustard - it is Old Cape Cod Sweet and Hot Honey Mustard - I need to go get some pretzels! Yum! And the hot sauce if Franks extra hot! I am thinking Nachos or maybe on a Baked potato. It will be enjoyed. There is also some magnetic notepads (which I love because I use these all the time) and some cute notecards. Finally, there is the coolest knitting notion - a BrySpun Fix It - its a #8 needle on one end and a H crochet hook on the other. Perfect for dropped stitches. I am tickled with this! Ponyknits did a wonderful job spoiling me!
Now I am going to go knit some and maybe stare at my pretty yarn some more! Its nice to be back - but seriously? Its still freaking raining here. This is the longest winter ever. Oh yeah  - its almost August.