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I don’t know about you, but it is so easy for me to buckle under the perceived weight of my everyday life. Kids, work, food, sleep. Repeat. I’ve allowed myself to create a world view so limited, that I can’t see beyond the tip of my own nose. It’s definitely time to refocus.

As I lift my gaze out into the world, I remember why I let myself become so short-sighted. Trying to live compassionately in a world of such heartbreak can be nearly incapacitating. What do I do when I don’t know what else to do? Pick up my needles and knit. This time I’m knitting for others.

Vests for afghans for Afghans. I’m trying to finish 3 by the March 1 deadline. A super fast and easy knit with bulky yarn from the stash.

I admit that it feels good to make something for someone in need, but my own warm fuzzy feeling isn’t really the point. An act of compassion or charity doesn’t change the situation for the long term. I wanted to look beyond the end of my nose, right? So, why is there so much need? What are we doing to bring about real change?

Sigh. It’s big and complicated. I’m trying to learn more and figuring out ways I can lend my voice to the voiceless. Meanwhile, I will remember to acknowledge my multitude of blessings and try to be a blessing to others. And when in doubt, I’ll keep knitting for good.

I’ve been reading:

  • Persuasion Jane Austen
  • Plain Truth Jodi Picoult
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Wench Dolen Perkins-Valdez (a friend from high school!)
  • Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
  • I just started reading Jane Eyre.

I’ve been knitting:

  • socks for the Mister (insert rant about the size of his feet here)

  • thrummed mittens for me – This is actually attempt number 2. I ripped out the first mitten because I was too chicken to do the afterthought thumb. These instructions are less intimidating, but I still prefer the look of a gusset.

I’ve been quilting:

  • two crib size quilts for my nephews – Finished them last week and mailed them today. Yay!! I ended up machine binding. I had quilted too close to the edge, so didn’t have the room to attach the binding for a hand-stitched binding. Honestly, I could spend a lot of time pointing out the flaws or beating myself up about the fact that I didn’t hand quilt them, but I’m going to refrain. They were made with boat loads of love and I think they are pretty cute. Do you hear that Inner Perfectionist?!?

Next up:

  • the second thrummed mitten (as soon as I get more roving)
  • maybe a sweater
  • quilting the lap quilt that I started two years ago
  • possibly more Jane Austen, but I’m open to suggestions

Last week, I had the chance to meet my newborn twin nephews.  So wee (4 lb 7 oz and 6 lb at birth) and so adorable.

I started working on quilts for each of them in the fall. The tops were finished in October, but I set them aside when I knew they wouldn’t be ready for the baby shower. Instead, I embellished some onesies and sent a box of baby basics in time for the party (literally, it was delivered during the shower).

When I’ve made quilts in the past, I have quilted them by hand. With two on the docket, even though they are crib size, I was a bit overwhelmed. I decided to invest in a walking foot for my sewing machine. I finally sat down to figure it out this week and I feel totally justified in the purchase. With a couple afternoons at the sewing machine, I have one of the two quilted.

I’m hoping to get the second one quilted over the weekend. Binding will take longer, but I now feel confident that I can get these completed and delivered before the boys outgrow them. 🙂

A couple months ago I started knitting a ruffled dress for Baby Girl.  The ruffle was HUGE!  It was ridiculous.  After far more time and yarn than I care to admit, I ripped it out and started a different pattern.  A simple tank top.  A few inches into that one, I decided I didn’t like it and frogged again.  At this point, the ladies at knitting group were getting a good chuckle.

Per my knitting guru‘s advice, I started Monica (Knitty Spring 2007).  The only alterations I made were that I knit it in the round and made i-cord straps, instead of the garter straps the pattern called for.  I was a little careless in my translating from knitting flat to knitting in the round and didn’t notice the bottom of the ruffle was supposed to have a few rows of garter.  Damn.  It rolls.  It is  annoying, but I am going to ignore it as best I can.  I am not frogging again.   Do you hear that inner perfectionist?!?  I. AM. NOT. FROGGING. AGAIN.

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Wednesday was the first day of summer vacation. Let’s just say, the kids and I were off to a rocky start. That night, after some tears (mine), the hubby and I came up with a plan. Stopping short of a rigid schedule, we drafted a check list of tasks for the kids to do each day. Everything from “get dressed” to S.Q.U.I.R.T. (super quiet uninterrupted independent reading time — acronym borrowed from school).

Arts and crafts time was included in the afternoon. Soon after lunch on Thursday, The Boy asked if it could be arts and crafts time. “Sure, what do you want to do?” He responded, “can you teach me to knit?” Twist my arm. I ran upstairs to grab a pair of needles and some leftover yarn. I cast on for him and showed him how to make the knit stitch, while reciting the rhyme:

In through the front door,
run around the back,
peek through the window,
and off jumps jack

With minimal coaching, he was off and knitting. I watched him for a bit, but soon felt free to putter around elsewhere. Occasionally, I was summoned back to help with a problem, but for the most part he did very well. I could hear him from the kitchen, reciting the rhyme as he knit.

Before dinner, I found him sitting in the backyard with his knitting. “It’s such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to knit outside.”

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A boy after his mama’s heart.

I am typically a pretty monogamous knitter.  One project on the needles until it is finished.  Every once in a while I get stuck and that project gets tucked into my basket to languish.  I knew there was a sweater for the Big Girl buried deep in the basket.  I hadn’t looked at it for at least a year and was figuring I’d rip it out and find another use for the yarn.  I’m not certain it will even fit her at this point.  Nevertheless, during my recent hunt for a project, I  rescued it from the depths and discovered  I was farther along than I remembered.  Just have the sleeves and button bands to knit.  Since I can’t remember the reason I put it aside, I decided to finish it.  Baby Girl can wear it in a couple years.   I will not let this UFO (unfinished object) taunt me any longer.

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I grabbed the sweater, the pattern and my DPN roll and figured I was good to go.  Have you seen my DPN collection?

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I have every size from 0 to 13.  Or so I thought.  Turns out, the one size I am missing is the size called for in the pattern.  Hmmm, maybe that’s why I put it aside in the first place.

My first instinct was to run to my favorite yarn shop and buy the missing needles.  I stopped myself and channeled my cheap frugal hubby.  At first I tried the Magic Loop method with a relatively long size 9 circular.  Then I remembered my Denise interchangeable set and decided two circulars would suit me better.  At least until I break down and go fill in the gap in my needle roll.

For Mother’s Day two years ago, Abby and I ditched the families and went to Shepherd’s Harvest Festival. (There is no rule that says a mother needs to spend the whole of Mother’s Day with her children, is there?)

So much fiber. So little money. I resisted so much beautiful yarn. Really. You should be impressed. Alas, I couldn’t leave empty-handed. That would be rude.  I came home with a hank of lace weight suri alpaca from Little Gidding Farm.  Given how much time I stood at the booth fondling all the hanks, I felt it was the right thing to do.

I pondered what to knit with it, but eventually the hank found a home in my bin o’ yarn.  It was pulled out, petted and admired on more than one occasion, but I was saving it.  Saving it for what?  Apparently, I was saving it for inspiration.

Last week, I met friends for tea and knitting, but showed up with nothing to knit.  The two women I was with stared at me uncomprehendingly when I said I didn’t have anything in the queue.  In an attempt to jump-start my knitting mojo, I spent some time on Ravelry and came up with a couple potential projects.  Unfortunately, I am woefully short on money to purchase yarn for those projects.

Plan B:  survey what I own.  I went digging through my stash.  Mind you, the bulk of my stash is leftovers from completed projects.  Single skeins.   Partial skeins.  Two, at the most.  Eventually, I pulled out the lovely hank of alpaca and *voila* I was inspired.

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The pattern:  Easy Flame Lace Scarf from Knit and Tonic

The pattern is very easy to remember and I can even knit and talk at the same time.  Very important for future knitting with friends.

After finishing Mr. Greenjeans, a project that took longer than I expected, I was looking for a quick knit.  With an eye toward spring, I found a pattern and picked up some yarn.  The pattern is Girl’s Cap Sleeve Spring Shirt (available here).  Knit with Fantasy Naturale.  The pattern is simple, clever and quick.  From yarn purchase to bind off was less than a week.

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There are several ways I can envision playing around with the pattern to add decorative elements, but for this time around I knit it as written.  Well, almost.  Since I had a fair amount of yarn left of the second skein, but not really enough to do much else with, I made it a bit longer.  Per Sarah‘s recommendation, I added a few increases to give it more of an a-line shape.  I plan to make a pair of bloomers to go with it in later spring and summer.  For now, she’ll wear it over a long-sleeve shirt and pants.  It may be spring according to the calendar, but we are in Minnesota, after all.

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Oops.  I forgot to announce the winner of the shameless ploy:  #7 Sarah (Lewis)!  Don’t start checking the mail just yet.  I have a couple ideas that I need to hammer out first.  I think you’ll like it.

My days have been filled with lots of non-crafty things lately.  Work.  Reading.  Exercising.  Baking.  Chickens.

What?  You don’t think about chickens?  We have been talking about getting chickens for well over a year.  Now, it’s serious.  A friend is placing her order for chicks and we have claimed 6 of them.  Meanwhile, we need to get our permit process going (including getting signatures from neighbors) and get the coop built.  Just a couple minor details.

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A couple of weeks ago, I tried the Light Wheat Bread from Smitten Kitchen and now we are hooked.  We’d been making no-knead bread for so long, that it was kind of an adjustment.  You mean I have to knead this?  I’ve decided that kneading bread dough for 10 minutes can count as exercise.  It makes such a lovely (and tasty) loaf of bread that it has become our standard sandwich bread.

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Although progress on Mr. Greenjeans feels slow, I did start on the first sleeve the other day.  Good thing we’ve got plenty of winter left around these parts.  Definitely enough time to finish and use a new sweater.

I am currently fighting my way out of a post-Christmas creativity slump. I foolishly jumped on the 365 photo a day bandwagon. Taking a photo a day is usually not my problem. No, the problem is taking at least one photo a day that isn’t total crap. I’ve already missed a day due to the fact that I was traveling to California for a funeral. Only 331 days to go. Fabulous.

Despite the lack of craft mojo, I did cast on for a new sweater recently. With a gift certificate I’d received for Christmas burning a hole in my pocket, I got myself over to Borealis to pick out yarn for Mr. Greenjeans. I was seriously considering another FLS, but decided to try something different. I was planning to splurge, but the yarn that called to me was Cascade 220. It may seem dull, but I can’t argue with getting enough yarn for a sweater and having money leftover. I was making decent progress until I realized that I wasn’t following the cable pattern correctly. So yesterday I went from this:

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to this:

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With surprisingly little angst, I just yanked the needles out and started to unravel. Must be a sign that I’m maturing as a knitter that I can do that without panicking. It’s all back on the needles and I’m back in the saddle.  I guess sometimes it is a good idea to read the pattern.

Lest we forget, January 20, 2009 was a truly historic day in America. The 2nd anniversary of my blog, of course! Leave a comment before President’s Day (February 16th) and I’ll draw a name or two for a little gift.