More Sweaters

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate seams. With a passion. I find a beautiful pattern, get excited, then I see those dreaded shapes, and I walk away. I’m so glad I discovered top-down sweaters, otherwise I may have never made one. Now I can’t seem to be stopped. First one for myself, then one for my mother (I’m still working on it), and now one for my youngest.

About a day’s worth of work.

She’s really stuck on Frozen and now especially Frozen II. Her favorite colors are blue and purple because of it and so everything has to be blue and purple. I’ve got a bunch of solo skeins and a pattern I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. It’s from ‘Love of Knitting’ Spring 2017 issue called Spring Day Raglan. And guess what? It’s top-down! Yay!

I happen to have a blue and a purple of the same type of acrylic. Thankfully, my daughter is still small and it is working up quickly. It’s great when I just need to make progress on something and the endless rounds of stockinette stitch are driving me crazy on the adult sweater. That reality warp happens and the the closer to the end of those rounds I get, the farther from done I feel. So, kid’s sweater.

One sleeve and a few fixings to do yet.

I’m looking forward to repeating this pattern for my other two. Also to redeem myself. The pattern is simple enough. I just couldn’t concentrate. I had no idea if I had written down the tally for my row or if I was on the increase round. It’s hard to notice the mistakes and I actually don’t mind them. I’ll probably write it out by hand to space it out better for the next attempt.Happy knitting!

Using the needle from another WIP to bind-off a bit more loosely.

Random Musings: Insomnia

Insomnia and I have been lifelong friends. Having an overactive imagination is pretty useful when you’re the middle child and entertaining yourself is kind of a must. Not so much when you have no control over it at night and it keeps your brain racing and you’re not always sure of the destination. Or what will happen along the way.

I have tried almost every natural remedy. The only things that ever cured me was being pregnant or breast feeding. So, the only times in my life where I had no trouble falling asleep, or even taking naps (after the age of 3), was when I wasn’t allowed to sleep because of a tiny human. The irony of my life.

I had hoped my insomnia was cured, until a few months after my last kid had weened herself away from me and I found myself in that same strange place of being tired, exhausted even, and yet unable to fall asleep once I laid down. That awful feeling of checking the clock every twenty minutes, telling yourself, “just another forty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…another twenty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…” Then just getting up because you have to do something. Otherwise another hour will go by, and then another.

Or I get up and make lists of things that need to get done around the house, or in my career, or personal projects, or the grocery list. Or I stay up late feverishly writing out the start of my next brilliant, unfinished novel or short story. Sometimes I’m just too fried to be tired.

The one tip that works most of the time is my mom’s. I began creating whole stories in my head at a very young age to put myself to sleep. The problem with an overactive imagination and creating is that I often lost control of the story and characters were swallowed up, or trapped in a loop. I later learned how to push through those hiccups, and gain control back. And that is part of why my mom’s tip was the best.

Whenever she had trouble falling asleep, she would picture walking through her childhood home. Walking up the front path. The feel of the pavement below her feet. The feel of the sunshine on her face. The way her neighborhood smelled. Each minute detail of each step along the way. I don’t think I ever make it much past the front foyer of the first house I remember. Just the stories of our antics in that foyer could almost fill a book. Five, maybe ten, minutes and I’m out. If only it worked every night.

I will say, when I’m exercising regularly, eating the balanced diet that I know works for me, keeping my processed sugars low, doing yoga, and basically doing all the self care things that keep me healthy in mind, body, and spirit, my insomnia nights are few and far between. I think that says a lot for taking care of yourself.

Latte Swirl

I hate seaming. Well, I don’t mind it so much with mitts or infinity scarves. But just the thought of trying to line everything up to begin sewing long seams just makes me start to panic a little. Working in the round is where it’s at for me. Double pointed needles (dpn), straight circular rounds, or the magic loop method, I love them all. And after finishing my first top-down sweater, I dove right into my next one.

This was before I frogged it.
And, honestly, my first time using magic loop.

Now, my love of coffee began just before high school. I started with those powder mocha mixes. Then graduated to regular coffee with lots of sugar and cream. My brother and I used to sing the Beastie Boys song when out with my mom and she looked at us funny adding all that sugar.

I could go on about how and why coffee is one of my loves, but the point of this post is the sweater. Coffee dates or picking up a cup on our way home from running errands is one of the ways my mom and I spend time together. It was what she did with each of us in high school for one-on-one time. My siblings and I have fond memories of those dates.

Such a fun yoke!

So, the sweater. It’s from that same Coffeehouse Knits book as my first sweater and the yoke was so much fun to make. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but when I start a pattern like this, I usually get several rows in before I get the swing of it. Then I rip it all out and start over so that I know it’s coming out right. With this one I did mess up a few times even after that. I had to frog back a few rows once or twice and I go stitch by stitch and they were cabling rows too!

Then I created this massive knot in my yarn. I tend to pull from the middle with larger skeins so I don’t have to spend an hour winding up a ball. This works great until the skein gets all floppy and starts to tangle. I tried rolling it into a ball from the other end one night and that helped a bit, but I left the skein a little intact and that was my mistake. A few days later I spent a very frustrated, but determined 40 minutes on this knot.

Progress so far.

Originally, I was going to give this to my mother for Christmas. This pattern was her favorite when she looked through the book with me. With everything going on and us not being able to have our coffee dates, I think I’m going to try to finish this a little sooner and send it off to her for Mother’s Day. I’m hoping it will help pick up her spirits a bit during these times.

Chocolate and Coffee

A few years ago I was perusing the display books at my neighborhood library when I found a book called ”Murder Most Frothy” by Cleo Coyle. I am a coffee lover and thought it might be fun. Of course, it was the 4th book in the series and so I requested the first one (“On What Grounds”). It’s a very small library.

I had never really been into murder mysteries as they were so predictable and trashy. The characters were always flat. The writing very basic. Not with this series. The protagonist, Clare Cosi is sharp, witty, and fairly relatable. Her passion for coffee is delicious and there are always coffee and dessert recipes at the end. It’s how I learned the proper way to make a Mocha, and it really does taste different.

These books are also filled with historical facts, lessons on architecture, and random information that I would have never known. They’re quick and fun and definitely perfect for relaxing with some coffee and enjoying.

So, I guess while reading this, I got a little inspired. My mom sent us a big box of Jiffy mixes and used two boxes of brownie mix. While mixing them up, I added the usual chocolate chips, but then I thought some cinnamon would be nice. It’s great for circulation, has antioxidants, adds sweetness without the sugar, and just tastes good with chocolate. Then, I thought, why not add some nutmeg.

Now, I’m not a nutmeg fan. I like a dash to know it’s there and get a bit of a bite. I had made these chocolate cayenne pepper bites a few years ago that were good, but too spicy. Nutmeg sounded perfect. They are awesome! My kids ate them up! And they go perfectly with some coffee.

Queen of Hearts

Halloween is my favorite holiday and creating costumes has been one of my favorite things to do since I was very little. I don’t mean sewing and designing elaborate pieces. I mean when you look through your closet and craft stuff and see what you can put together.

Since having kids and learning to crochet, I’ve taken this creating costumes to another place. Well, at least there was one year that I’m particularly proud of, and I had very little time to work with.

It happens a lot to me. I start getting myself ready about a month or so in advance. Then days and weeks go by and suddenly the holiday or event is upon us and I have nothing done, or not enough time to finish. That was the case this particular year. I had ideas percolating, but had not begin making anything and it was October 1st!

I had recently dyed my hair red (again) and really love Alice in Wonderland and steampunk style. I’ll be the Queen of Hearts, but first, to figure out my kids’ costumes. Those are the most important.

I made each vest first. The circular pattern crocheted up faster than I thought they would! They were a lot of fun to make and have bronze clockwork and gear buttons on them.

Then I knit and crochet all of their wrist warmers and their leg warmers. I sewed on decorative embellishments. Gears for the Cheshire Cat, clockwork pieces for the White Rabbit, and keys and locks for Alice.

Then it was time for my pieces. I crocheted a long thin scarf for my mini top hat. I made a crown out of a toilet paper roll to go around the hat. I crocheted a neck warmer and used leftover granny squares from a blanket I made to create hand warmers and crocheted up some leg warmers for myself. I already had a few items from previous Halloween costumes to finish it all up. And of course, added heart-shaped gears!

I only had time to quickly make up a couple of things for my husband’s costume and ran to the thrift store to pick up a couple of items. My mom also gave us a hat for him. An here we are!

It’s Going to Be OK, Eventually

Drained lake at Whipple Dam.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is hiking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s usually a battle to get the girls to wear anything appropriate for the weather, the trail, or just the general concept of putting sneakers on. There is much screaming and crying and searching the house for the necessary items to make this trek. Whining over what I’m bringing for snack and who’s going to have to carry the water bottle. No one wants a jacket.

Stylish hiking outfits.

But then we get to the trail and the kids bound out of the car and are unstoppable. They want to keep going and try the hardest parts of the trail. They run, they walk backwards, they stop to show each other things they find along the way.

Hiking in Coburn

These days, the hikes are even more precious. We have a parking lot for a backyard and no front lawn to speak of, and so our treks in the woods are a time for us to all have some space and fresh air.

Listening to my mother read us a bedtime story.
We do this almost every night now.

But, if I’m being honest, I am loving this time to just relax with my kids. We fight about school work, and who gets more XBox time, and contemplate the more important issues of life, like what we’re going to be for Halloween this year (I don’t know, alright!?). We also hug more, say I love you more, and are ok with just being right now.

Living in our pajamas and loving popsicles!

I’m feeling pretty blessed that our kids are at the ages they are for this. My husband is able to work from home, and while I will be out of work for the indefinite future, we will come through. We always do. We have weathered much worse than this.

Elsa battling Harry Potter while the Wild One runs amok.

In the meantime, we will allow the escape technology can give, find enjoyment in the simple things, be content with the mess, happy with the productive days, run with the spontaneous, and just breathe. Peace and blessings.

Only during quarantine.

Wreaths

It’s kind of crazy to think about what life was like when we only had two kids, I was staying home, and every day was a financial struggle. Those were the years that really formed the foundation of my domestic abilities. When there is a need, you buckle down and figure out how to do it.

Late winter wreath.

My mom was very creative raising us. We went through some really difficult times, but I never really understood the depths of the difficulty until I had my own kids. My siblings and I were always told enough to keep us safe or to just know what was happening in our world, but seriously, I have no idea how we survived. Other than an extremely creative mother, and an extremely loving and supportive community of people that my parents had made for themselves by being the amazing people that they are.

This one use to have two birds and an egg in the nest while we waited for baby number three. The little birdies got them.

So, I learned from both my parents how to make due with what we had and how to appreciate the gifts we have. Our holidays were always memorable, but never extravagant. My husband has some interesting stories of his childhood, but we both agreed to never go overboard on the holidays and to keep it low key as long as we could. That meant that we just had a few people over for cake on their birthdays and only started decorating for the holidays when our oldest was about two or three. Definitely less stress.

We’ve already established I wasn’t suppose to be domestic. I wasn’t suppose to be the stay-at-home parent either. It just worked out that way. Our oldest two are 18 months apart. My hormones were all over the place, my husband was working all the time to support us at a job that left him exhausted, I had an energetic two-year-old that never stopped and never slept, and an overly dramatic infant who had to cry herself to sleep every night. I was shot. But I wanted decorations for the house.

Autumn is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday.

That part about my mom being really creative in raising us. Yeah, she came up with all kinds of games and activities that were really ways to save on energy bills, or entertain us for free, or just give her a break when it was all too much. We were some pretty wild kids. She always had crafts for us to do and it was my favorite thing in the world- besides reading. She also understands what it’s like to be at home with your kids and need something to help. She won me a giant basket of yarn and supplies for knitting one year and the next year it was full of yarn and everything you need to learn how to crochet. This is when I learned to crochet.

I’m kind of surprised this has survived over the years.
This is the wreath from the class.

She also took me to a wreath making class. I no longer have the one wreath, but I have the second one I made. I still hang it on our door every Christmas season. I also found that crocheting with young ones was much easier and safer than trying to knit. I could make all kinds of things so quickly. It gave me something that was for me and then I gave most of it away as gifts. I also began making my own wreaths when we moved into the house we are in now. I finally had a front door where I could safely hang crocheted items.

Just a bunch of hot glue.

I still don’t have one for the summer months and I’m not sure if I’ll crochet one or craft one from other mediums, but one day I’ll make one. For now, I’m just happy I finally made a Halloween one. It’s my favorite holiday and really wanted to get it right. I think I did.

Hope you enjoy! And feel free to share pictures of your own wreaths with me! I would love to see what you’ve made!

My First Sweater

The beginnings of a sweater.

I don’t know about anybody else right now, but if I’m not cooking, cleaning, or taking care of my kids, I’m knitting. I’ve made wrist warmers, a shawl, a giant cowel, and a sweater. I currently have another sweater and a shrug in the works and am waiting to begin unraveling a crochet project to knit a sweater for my husband. I had thought the crochet pattern I picked would work up really quickly to finally make a sweater for my husband (it would have been my first adult sweater and second sweater ever). What I had not anticipated was my boredom and frustration with the repetitive stitch. The finished back and almost done front piece with all the rest of the yarn have been sitting in a bag for at least two years now.

A sweater taking shape and a cowel.

Thankfully, I was able to stock up a bit on supplies and yarn before this all began. I had a few patterns in mind and tried to make sure I had enough of the right yarn and the right needles. Even though I’ve been knitting for most of my life, I’ve only really been getting the hang of it the last few years. Incidentally, I did not get everything I would need. So I changed some of my plans. My first project during quarantine, however, I was prepared for.

My work against the book.

During one of my solo trips to Barnes and Noble -you know, before all this started- I found this wonderful knitting book called “Coffeehouse Knits”. I had circled back to my roots and my hands did not want to touch a crochet hook, only knitting needles. I was feverishly hunting down the most essential knitting books (for me). All the patterns in it are so warm and really made me feel like I was sitting in almost any of the coffeehouses I hung out in in my younger years. I knew exactly which sweater I was making and who it was for. Me.

The only metal needles I like to use. They have a matting and are not too slippery.

I usually gift most of what I make. I only make practice pieces for myself that work up fairly quickly, so I have time for everyone else’s items. It keeps me happy and warm, but I have been longing to make sweaters. I almost always make the first of anything for myself anyway. That way I can learn and make it better for someone else. I have definitely learned a few things on this one.

Waiting for sleeves!

The yarn I used is a bit stiffer than the pattern, but I kind of like that. The neck is a bit long, so I would definitely make it a bit shorter next time. I also knew the pattern might come out a bit long, but I didn’t want to try it on until it was done. It’s a bit wide around the middle, but again, I kind of like that. Honestly, there are things I would change to make it a little more me, but now I know that and can adjust the next one. Although it might take me a while to get to another sweater for myself. I’ve got a long list now that I know what I’m doing.

This was such a fun pattern to work with!

So here is my first knit sweater ever! I love it and it has been keeping me toasty warm on these chilly April days. The process of creating something usable has been really therapeutic during these times. I hope everyone can fine what helps them through. This massage therapist is happy to keep her hands busy and is ready for the next project!

My daughters helped take some photos for me.

The Accident

I was never suppose to be ‘domestic’. I had every intention of never settling down anywhere, ever. I was to be wild and adventurous till the end of my days! Instead, I met this amazing guy and fell utterly in love with him and my whole world changed.

Several years later, we’re married, I’ve made it through massage school, we have three daughters, I am finally working in my profession again, and my husband finally gets to go to school for a degree. By this point I have become almost a master of budget meal plans, crafting fun for those boring days, creating amazing birthday parties, crocheting decorations, and knitting lots of accessories. I had become ‘domestic’.

The realization rubbed me a little raw, but I love being there for my family. I would not trade any of this crazy mess for a life of travel. I like to share all these things that I do and learn from others who do the same.

So, one day I was describing all the Alice in Wonderland Halloween costumes I was crocheting and knitting for my family and a friend called me a “domestic goddess”. It made me stop in my tracks. Instead of feeling chained to my ‘domestic’ duties, I felt empowered by them. That slight shift gave me a new way of looking at my life and the ability to embrace where my path has led me.

This blog is to share the things that bring me joy with others and help inspire others to be their authentic selves.