Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More about Time

Time seems to be a major topic with me lately. I think it's because it is so elusive these days.

I look at my kids, and remember being that age and how slowly time seemed to pass. They seem to think it passes slowly. Something that they want to do being a week away, or even just a couple days away, and they just can't believe how long it takes to get to whatever it is.

To me, now, something being only a week away means I better have been getting ready for it a week ago, or I won't ever be ready. A week is just a couple hours in perceived time these days.

And I think I have figured out why that is. Filled time is in a hurry. Unfilled time just sort of meanders along. My kids have unfilled time for the most part. They are just going along and enjoying whatever they can that comes their way. I, on the other hand, have filled time. It's all mapped out. Full, stuffed, and overflowing. No spaces left. Time is so full for me that it thinks it's in a race.

It didn't used to be that way. But somehow, college, friends, then a marriage, a job....and then, kids. Dude, kids fill your time like nothing else in this world. And in such a way that you don't really know what the time got filled with. But what an adventure!! To see those little eyes looking at something new and amazing- like a squirrel that found it's way into the bird feeder, or an eagle that's just floating in the midst of the blue nothing- that is the most awesome way to fill your time.

In the spaces that I squeeze out, mostly when the explorers are dreaming about the explored, that is where I fit designing. Knitting happens anytime, anywhere during exploration. Designing has to have it's own time, at least to a certain extent. A lot of my designing happens during the knitting. I design "on the fly", or at least "on the knit". And because of that, I LoVe lifelines.

You know, those little strands of waste yarn that is threaded into the live stitches and left there? I use them all the time. Anytime I reach a point on my design that I say "yes, that's what I wanted", I stick in a lifeline. Then when the next section is questionable, I can frog back to where I know it's good without stressing about dropping good stitches.

But designing is more than knitting. Designing requires math. Sometimes it includes sketches. Almost always it needs a chart or two.

Not really possible to fit that in while explaining that 12/3=4 not 6.

So I have to push the bag of time just a little wider and squeeze just a little bit more into it every once in a while. This usually happens with the baby is napping and the other 3 wild things are exploring outside- or after all 4 of them are crashed out for the night. If I'm really desperate (more often than I'd like to admit) I cram numbers, charts, swatches and sketches into the weekend, and type like a maniac while my husband is home monitoring the exploration.

There's no set schedule or time of day for this. I push it in when it has to happen. Part of the reason it's working is because I force myself to be disciplined. No more than 2 designs going at a time- one for the purse, and one for home. When one is cast off, it must be utterly completed before I can cast on another. That means all the finishing, all the pattern math, all the pattern writing. The pattern is sent to the tester before I pick up the needles and yarn for the next one. Otherwise, I'd have tons of finished knits, and no patterns. I have to be disciplined about it.

Sometimes, it is so hard to do that. Like last week, when I cast off the sweater I was working on... It took me half a week to write the pattern, finish the math, and prep for the next design. By prep, I mean solidify what I wanted in my head, chart the stitch patterns I needed, swatch the options, choose one, and then do the math so I could cast on the correct number of stitches. In the meantime, when I couldn't take any more math, I pulled out my purse project and knit on it. It doesn't often take me that long to move from one project to another, but every once in a while......

Another reason I do it that way is so I don't get confused in my mind what exactly I did at that point in the project where I was too busy knitting (or chasing an explorer) to bother with the note taking.... I have the project there to look at and do some reverse engineering if I have to. And sometimes, I do.

And when I'm not good about focusing on one pattern at a time, I can get into trouble. Like the issue I just discovered after blocking the pair of mitts I just finished knitting. I still can't figure out why the one is an inch and a half longer than the other when I used the first one to measure the 2nd. Oh well. Now I just have to figure out how to fix it with a minimum of frogging....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding Time to Knit

I'm a busy person.
But if you know me, you knew that already.
I have 4 awesome kids whom I homeschool, a fantastic husband that I can never spend enough time with, a home to clean and care for, meals to cook- and designing and knitting to do.
I get asked a lot how I find time to knit. Or I hear people say, "I just don't have the time/patience to knit".
Well, let me tell you about it!
First of all, as someone once said; (I wish I could give credit to the person that said this, but I really can't remember who it was- probably the YarnHarlot, but I'm not sure) "I don't knit because I'm patient, I'm patient because I knit."
Wow, that is so totally true for me.
Or the more popular one: "I knit so I don't kill people".
I don't think I'm that bad, but knitting is a patience maker and a solace for me.
My husband says I'm an over-achiever.
I suppose I am.
(He also says I'm a hippie, but I'm not going to address that right now.)
I hate it when my hands aren't busy.
I love playing games with people, and talking to people and hanging out....
But I'm just not patient enough for it!
I'm not accomplishing anything tangible when I'm playing games, talking, hanging out. But- if I'm knitting while I do those things....
Well, then I can touch something that I am accomplishing as well as enjoying family and friends.
With kids, I've learned to multi-task in some surprising ways.
When do I find time to knit??
I have had the worst time answering that question.
I usually just say "You make time for what you love". And I think that is true.
But there is more to it than that.
My brother-in-law loves taking pictures.
Some of his pictures can be very revealing. At least to me.
I finally found out how I find time to knit thanks to a couple of his photos.

Forgive the cheesy facial expression, I was laughing and talking as well as playing a board game while holding my gorgeous little niece,,,and, yes, knitting.
I think that day revealed to my family just how much I love knitting and really will work to make time to knit.
I knit in all the usual places- watching movies, hanging out with friends, waiting in the Dr's office...all that good stuff.
I also knit while playing board games, teaching my children, following the baby around the park, reading my books....anywhere and anytime I possibly can without being offensive.

But I must admit, this is one I haven't tried yet:

Roo will be potty-training soon too. Hopefully he can learn from his cousin's example.....

So where do you make time to knit???

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer of (Re)Organization

We are in the beginnings of our summer break.

Well, the kids are. School's done for the summer, the sun is occasionally out, and their responsibilities are basic daily chores, getting along with each other, and having a good time. How fun to be a kid.

In celebration of/preparation for that, the kids and I spent the weekend reorganizing a few things, and weeding out some others. I had them thin down their toys a bit and clean it all up and organize it so that I could then bring out the Treasure Chest.

The Treasure Chest is full of Legos. Full. A collection of many years; from when my brothers and I were growing up. This is about a quarter of the full collection. (Unfortunately, the other 3/4 of our collection was stolen a few years ago, but we are very glad that these were not.)

I love that my kids love playing with the contents of the Treasure Chest. I love that they have imaginations that are not taken over by video games and TV shows. I love that they would rather play and build and imagine than sit and stare. I intend to encourage that in any way I possibly can.

To that end, this summer, we have the Treasure Chest fully available (it's been in storage for over a year because of a little Roo that put everything in his little mouth-but now that he's older....), and a game table that is set up for board games that we can leave out for days and days to finish whatever long game we want (Life, Monopoly, anyone?). I've re-organized the house and freed up some space so when (if) it gets hot, there is imaginative play available inside.

And for the outside, I've added a little fun to the usual bikes, sticks, and dirt.
This old couch became the kids' play couch as we got some nicer furniture. It's basically our version of a trampoline. Now, they can enjoy it even when they are dirty. Which, if he's outside, Roo is, quite, as you can see.

My re-organization?

Well, the house needed some work. And the school stuff. My part of the re-organization is going to take most of the summer. It'll involve a lot of prep work for next year, but for what we did last weekend- I was a good girl. I made the kids get rid of some of their toys before we brought more in. So I made myself get rid of some of my toys.

Yes, that means I went through the yarn stash. I pulled out half a small trash bag full. Mostly odds and ends. None of my nice hand-dyed stuff (not even hand-dyed remnants, I have plans for those!), but a lot of old project remnants, a few things I was given years ago that I haven't touched, have no plans for, and know I will never use, but have hung on to, just in case. That was harder than I anticipated. But it was good. Freed up some space (and a Rubbermaid) that can now be enjoyed as free space.

I've also been knitting away. I am about 4hrs away from completely finishing the cotton sweater. I am very excited about that. I have a little bit of edging to knit, and then it's seaming time. Then on to pattern writing and the next project!!!

I have a couple secret projects not related to the book to do next. Then I get to come back to the book- and a huge lace-weight project that I've been looking forward to with some trepidation. Nothing like learning new skills on the job!!

I love a challenge.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rant, Rave, Review


Actually, I don't have anything to rant about, but the word fit so well with the title that I had to use it.

If I were to try to rant, it would probably be something along the lines of wishing it were easier to communicate than to miscommunicate, and the old "why can't we all just get along?!" line.

It's especially difficult to teach communication skills to small children who don't even understand their own thoughts and feelings- and if I were a better communicator, it would really help. Not saying that in regard to anything specific. Just noting that it is a rant-able topic.

Ok, so I guess I found a rant. :) I'll stop now.


I am currently knitting a pretty little Spring Cardigan for my book. I am absolutely loving it. The yarn is so perfect, in color, texture, softness, drape. Everything I want this yarn to be for this sweater, it is.

It is The Unique Sheep's Pima Petite, in colorway "Prince of the Wood Elves" from the Lord of the stRings Sock Club.
In my opinion, the best cotton yarn ever. It is actually a joy to work with. Immensely soft, not hard on your hands because of the inelasticity, gorgeous drape- in short, everything you want from a cotton yarn. I don't see any other cotton ever replacing this as my favorite.

I got this yarn 2yrs ago with a vague idea in my mind of what I wanted. I am finally getting to play with it, and the vague idea didn't totally materialize when I needed it too, so I sat down with a sketchbook, some old sketches that I knew wouldn't work well as they were, and a stitch dictionary. I am loving what this is becoming. I really hope you do too.


I have just had the pleasure of reading a book authored by a friend of mine. (I get to say I know an author, now. And not just know him, he played piano for my wedding. I feel like a little fan-girl now. *grin*)

"An Imperceptible Spark, Finding the Courage to Live a Life of Joy"
By Steven Rice

In this book, Steve shares his journey to joy with us. The beginning of the story is one a lot of us can identify with- feeling trapped, in a rut, running as fast as we can to nowhere we want to go.
As Steve shares throughout the book, the rest of the story can be full of joy and peace, rather than the frustration and emptiness we may be anticipating.

Unlike a lot of Motivational or Self-Help books, Steve doesn't tell us to change what we are doing- rather, we should be changing how we are thinking. I love this. Our thoughts have such a profound effect on what we do, how we do it, and most of all, how we feel. In a lot of cases, we have no control over what is happening to or around us, but we can have control over our minds.

Another aspect Steve talks about in sharing his journey is gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude changer. Another point I love that he makes here. Gratitude helps you fix your focus where it needs to be, and brings joy in difficult times.

I confess I'm not giving this book a 5-star review. But the reason for that is not because it is not a good book. I think it is. It is well-written, it is an easy read- I don't feel like I'm slogging through a bunch of technical or spiritual terms I don't get- I like the format, I enjoyed the extra quotes (and fully intend to copy some of them for my wall); but theologically/philosophically, I just could not agree with some of the points. For me, that knocks off a couple stars, but that's an issue with my worldview, not an issue with the writing or the book. I am glad I read this book. I learned from it. It's worth reading for sure.

At the end of the book, Steve reveals to us that the search we are on, in the end, is not completely about joy and peace. It is a search for............ oh, sorry, you'll have to read it to find that out.
The book is available through Amazon (link to the Kindle edition above), or Barnes and Noble.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring just may have finally Sprung

It seems as though Spring may finally have descended on the Pacific Northwest. At least we can hope. We've had a whole 3 days without rain.

And the kids are loving it!

Roo made a discovery recently. What boy doesn't just love to play....

In The Dirt?? With the arrival of Spring (and the dirt)- it must be time for Spring Cleaning, right?

Well, Bear thought that was an ok idea. He even managed to look rather dashing in the midst of it all.
And with the coming of Spring, it must be time to check out the local parks and see which you will spend the most time in over the Summer, right?

Well, the cousins thought this one was pretty great. There was lots to show each other. (quick, tell me which is older, left or right??)
(left. By a full year.)

After all the Spring fun, one must get rested up for Summer.....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eleven and a Half

Eleven and a half years ago, I married my best friend. It was one of the best things I ever did.
Yes it probably seems odd to be bringing that up when it's not really our anniversary or anything- but we just celebrated our 11 yr anniversary last weekend. Better late than never, right? We usually do better about celebrating on or around the actual date, but 20 months ago, we had to put it off b/c I was 9 months pregnant. So we wound up celebrating at the "and a half" mark.

For our anniversaries, we always make it a point to have a "honeymoon". Some fantastic advise that our pre-marital counselors gave us; and we are so glad!
This year, thanks to a fabulous Groupon deal, we went to Corbett, Oregon. To the View Point Inn. It was pretty much perfect for us; close by, very quiet, gorgeous scenery, and good food.

In fact, the food was fabulous. The chef went above and beyond in working with my special diet- and it was the best salmon I have ever ever had. I ate it while looking at this:

And afterwards, we went for a walk to the little pond on the grounds. I had to take a picture for the kids:
I wish I had remembered to bring my camera. Cell phone photos really don't do it justice. But we had a lovely time, and I'm excited to see what the next 11 and a half years will bring.