Giving up 2012 / Remembering worth 2013

2012 was the year of giving up…and not in a I-will-no-longer-eat-fast-food sort of way. In a I-can’t-commit-to-anything sort of way. I was restless and unfocused and, overall, uninspired. At some point in the year I started then later gave up on scrapbooking, wearing makeup, photography, writing a memoir, cross stitch, knitting, crochet, blogging, sewing, running, watching the X-Files, embroidery. Only thing I really stuck to was reading (three cheers for the Kindle) and dying my hair (though partly because of the appointments made in advance).

I felt not good enough. My photos weren’t as great as those of others on Flickr or Instagram, especially because I wasn’t willing to dress up in a funny costume and never figured out how to clone myself with software. My current life had no excitement to blog about and my past was too boring to write about even within the confines of the notebooks that no one ever sees. My cross stitch was mundane; my attempts at a TARDIS embroidery untidy. My knitting (except socks, everyone always love their handknit socks) was unwanted. My attempts at cooking, bland. My attempts to mentor the students at FIRST, ineffective. My job search did go well at first because my suit didn’t fit properly (not because a great job was waiting for my within my own company – where I wore jeans to my interview). The only thing I could do correctly was eat, it seemed. Oh, and fall asleep reading. Totally mastered that this year.

So..what will be different in 2013? I’ll learn not to care. Okay, still care about important things like doing my absolute best at work and not dressing like a slob and making sure the bathrooms are clean when guests come over. But, not to care about things which are creative.

My friend Heather once told me that you can’t possibly fail at creativity. And, you know what, she’s right. No one dies if your embroidery is crooked or your photos is a bit blurry (call it “artsy”) or your mac-n-cheese is a bit runny.

Because, for the 100th time, all of my creative (and running, ’cause, you know, there’s that, too) efforts are worth it. Because, greater than that, I’m worth it. My time, my energy, my effort, my stash of craft supplies – all worth it.

Color my World*

I have no idea when it comes to color. Sure, I can sort primaries from secondaries and I painted many a color wheel and hue strip in my “I want to be an artist” days, but that whole world of color theory, a total mystery.

When I want to know what colors “work,” I search on the internet for color combinations or go back to the tride-and-true grellow (yellow and gray), roqua (red and aqua), blue and cold, brown and pale pink..

One day, my LYS had a special workshop offering: Color Theory with Miss Babs (yes, that Miss Babs). Two hours, minimal charge, snacks served. Learn about color from an expert, get tips on putting colors together, get first access to her trunk show (must admit, that last one really tiped the scales for me).

The legend herself

So, I went, expecting this super-technical discussion on colors and how to put them together. Key words for the night would be hue and saturation and tone and pigment and Pantec.

I was wrong. In all the right ways.

You see, Miss Babs is not an artist by training. She was a professor, of business and finance who became one.

And not by going to a fancy art school.

She learned intuitively. By figuring out what colors went together. By working with colors she was naturally drawn to. By working with combinations that she thought could never work then being surprised, quite often, when they did.

Playing with Color

(Also, she pointed out that we all see colors differently, both because of the uniqueness of our eyes but also because of the perceptions tied to color. Like my hatred of pastels that’s tied to all of those Poly Flinders dresses my mom had me wear growin up. Or another attendee’s hatred of “Army green” because that’s all her father ever wore and he was always away from home.)

Putting Colors Together

One of the most inspirational talks I’ve ever been to. She showed us that even those of us without an art degree can understand color because it’s not about what “should” go together but what we feel like goes together.

Brights

And no one can decide what does or doesn’t work, only we get to do that.

Orange and Black

Which is why I used some leftover bright green and black yarn to make a shawl. Because, to me, they belonged together. And that’s perfectly alright.

* I couldn’t help it. It’s the first title that came to mind. Second was “Des Colores” which was one of my favorite songs as a kid which will always remind me of my Nana.

Random? Random.

As usual, I’ve got a million things on mymind and some combination of “I don’t have time to blog” or “I don’t feel like blogging” means you’re stuck with a list post for today (with the requisite random photos).

1. Finished knitting the alpaca shawl and hoping to block it soon, though I really don’t know when. The cats have taken to taking naps on the futon I usually block things on. May just block on my side of the bed, starting one of these days when I get home well before Matt. I can point the fan at it to help the drying process, right? It has no destined recipient so it’s not as if there’s a big rush.

2. Have finished knitting the scarf for Leah and am now working on a single crochet edging to help stop some of the curl. After that’s done (hopefully shortly after I get home from work this evening), I’ll toss it through one or more machine wash cycles to “block” it. Really, really want to get it to Leah tomorrow though Monday (when I would see her next) seems more likely.

3. No progress on the gloves for my coworker due to the concentrated work on the other projects.

4. First sock for Danielle is done, second is only a few rows away from starting the heel turn/gusset (whichever comes first on a cuff-down sock).

5. I have applied for graduation with the university, filled out my departmental paperwork, and even bought graduation announcements. Yet, still, I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact I’m actually, FINALLY graduating.

6. Next knitting project I’ll start will likely be a blanket for Dan and Shelagh though I’m waiting on them to pick yarn/colors.

7. If I finish the gloves and am itching for another WIP to work on, I’ll probably be good and finally finish up the sweater I started for myself months ago. Just needs 1.25 sleeves and a good blocking.

8. Been very much slacking on my daily self-portraits. Missed taking one altogether last Thursday. I blame the fact we had friends over for dinner though, really, I had no excuse. I even had my camera downstairs! Look, I took this photo of the flowers Matt got me.

Flowers

9. Turned in abstract for my project to a conference/competition at UVA. Project is going in a different direction, yet again. I’m not too bothered, really, as it’s more of a change to the wrapper of our projec than it’s core.

10. The robot ships a week from today. I doubt Matt will be on the same planet as me before then. I’m still quite distant from what’s going on with the team as I’m only at their Saturday meetings and, well, I’ve been doing my own school work then. Maybe I’m helpful in showing that women are engineers? The school is a fancy engineering/science prep school with a good 50% female population, so it’s not as if the girls don’t think they can go into this field, but it’s another thing altogether to know the female engineer isn’t something their teachers made up.

11. It was super warm for a few days but today, back to very windy and upper 30s. Thankfully, more warmth is coming later this week.

12. We’re thinking of going to Europe this fall. Matt has a new idea as to where every time we talk about it. This time, we’re going for at least two weeks. Sort of tired of rushing around for 8 days and just plain getting worn out versus relaxing.

Flake-itude

Once upon a time, I could keep simple promises. Promises like blogging weekly and reading freinds’ blogs then commenting. Apparnetly I have now succombed to what I’ll call Flake-itude. When you adopt of the attitude of a flaky person.

But, I will try to shake my current affliction and get back to blogging. Maybe even multiple times this week. Gasp!

So, what’s going on in my life?

School project is crazy.

Other class is easy (learning about inventory control which I learned at a previous job).

I’m starting to figure out what’s going on at work (at last!).

Went skiing for the first time Saturday and didn’t manage to kill myself despite the fact I had the wrong skis and bindings. Will try again at the end of the month. I won’t say I enjoyed myself though I did much better than I expected.

Booked a giant pavillion which will house my graduation party in May. Plan is to get BBQ from a place in Annapolis and invite basically everyone I know, even if they don’t live nearby.

I read a book. It was for class, but it’s the first book I’ve even tried to read this year. I’ll lead my review of the book for a later blog post.

I’ve been doing lots of knitting and a little crochet. And that’s where this post’s photos come in.

The oldest WIP I’m actually working on is this shawl in Ultra Alpaca Fine. I have no idea who to give it to when it’s complete, I just know there is no earhtly way I could wear it against my neck. Alpaca’s fine for me to knit with but, man, does the stuff make me itch everywhere else. Does one of you in blog land want it? It’s a beautiful crescent shape with a simple, traditional lace edging.

Progress

Next is a scarf for Leah, of which I have no recent photo. It’s now a good 30 inches long so far more distance to go before it’s complete. It’s large enough that I can no longer tote it with me to/from work or school though I must get better about actually working on it. She’s a great friend and I don’t want to get the scarf to her after it’s already warmed up enough not to need it. [Yarn is Berroco Weekend]

Scarf for Leah

Then there’s these fingerless gloves I started to crochet for a coworker but got stalled on when I got to the second one. These’ll get finished real quick once I pick them up again. [Yarn is Neighborhood Fibre Co Studio Sport in a OOAK colorway named L'Enfant Plaza.]

Half Done

Finally, another pair of socks for Danielle in squishy Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!.

7 Feb - Cold Toes

So much for that…

For the last couple weeks, I kept posting my daily post on Thursday. I knew this and fully planned to write a post yesterday. Too bad all sorts of things conspired together and I didn’t actually get that post written. I also almost forgot to take my daily self portrait.

Oh, right. I don’t think I’ve said anything about that here. I’m trying, yet again, this year to take a self-portrait daily. With a brand-new camera and a year that’s going to be full of all sorts of big changes in my life (hello, college graduation!), it was the perfect time to try again. So far, I haven’t missed a day.

I can’t say all of my shots have been wonderfully inspired. Some are just quick iPhone shots of me during my commute or sitting at my desk at the end of the day, but there’s always a picture. On more exciting days, I’ve been trying really hard to record what happened to make that day important/special/impactful (yes, it’s a word). Way to record my life, even though it’s usually pretty mundane.

Outside of this photo project and forgetting to blog, I’m working on getting back into the swing of things with school and work. I only have two classes so most days are spent at work, not at school. That’s going to take a lot of getting used to, as I was only working 8-10 hours a week last term.

But, only 15 weeks of school left and my classes aren’t that bad. Senior design is complicated and stressful but, really, that’s expected. My last operations research class looks like it’s going to be easy and the professor is a good combination of informative and interesting (though he voice is so soothing, it makes you want to sleep in class).

Oh! And the crafting. I finished that blanket for Steph and Kevin and the socks I’ve been working on for Danielle since early December. Also slowly plugging away on an alpaca shawl for some as of yet undetermined recipient. Feeling guilty that my cardigan I started for myself in late November still has only 3/4 of its first sleeve (though the body is all done). Started the next pair of socks for Danielle though the dark color of the yarn she chose is obfuscating the pattern horribly. Just this morning, started a pair of fingerless gloves (crocheted) for a coworker with permanantly cold hands.

Exciting, huh?

Today’s random blog photo is of a prototype for the claw the students designed. Search my blog for FIRST and you’ll find previous posts about the high school robotics program I work with. New school, same concept. [Though these kids can all solder, machine, weld, and draft far better than I can. It's nuts!]

Claw Prototype 002

Later, all!

Year in Review

Alternate title: The New Year is not nearly exciting enough to blog about, yet, so I’m going to cheat and blog about what last year was all about.

January: Worked part-time during winter recess from school. Found myself with more free time than I knew what to do with. Did almost no blogging but lots of knitting. Matt was away for work for a week and I passed by time by hanging out at the yarn store and going to lunch with my friend, Rosemary.

February: Started the Couch to 5 K for the first time (which ended a few weeks later when I got sick and could barely breathe). Went to West Virginia so Matt could go skiing with Alex and Shelly during a horrible snow storm. Two days after unburrying a parking space for Matt’s car, we got another 20″ of snow. I did get to miss four days of both work and school, though my poor car remained burried for a full three weeks. I participated in and nearly finished my goals for Ravelympics. The semester really got going, including two classes which went late into the evening. Thanks to Dan’s wife, I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mason Inn construction site.

March: Spent a week feeling like death which was really just a bad cold. Did a lot of knitting while Matt spent my Spring Break skiing in Vermont.

April: Decided to train to run a half marathon, while only being able to run for 2 minutes at a time for 30 minutes.

May: Learned to crochet, hexagons specifically. Spent a long weekend in Chartlottsville wine tasting. Went strawberry picking. Finished up what turned out to be a 4. 0 GPA semester.

June: Went back home for a friend’s wedding. Managed to also go to the Florida Keys (finally) during the same trip.

July: Celebrated the 4th at Arlington, as I did last year. Knit a shawl for a coworker and an ill-fitting sweater for myself. Got an iPhone 4, an upgrade I really didn’t need.

August: Made fingerless gloves for Sarah. Gave away about a third of my stash, finally got the last of it to the recipient this past week. Went to DE to go to the beach (but forgot to take photos, apparently).Visited the National Zoo.

September: Began my penultement semester of college. Got eaten alive by my senior design project. Celebrated my 26th birthday by not being able to talk for three days. I finally went to the doctor about my hip and was told no more running until some physical therapy (or a monthly injection). Had family over for labor day.

October: Went to the Rally to Restore Fear/Sanity. Celebrated fourth wedding anniversary but going somewhere for dinner than neither Matt nor I can remember. Ran out of candy at 7:15 on Halloween, despite expecting very few children.

November: Had a cousin’s-only Thanksgiving, again. Lots of school stress. I’m sure I did some knitting.

December: Last days of the semester. Caribbean cruise with parents and MIL. Barely stayed up until Midnight on New Year’s Eve. GOT NEW CAMERA!

Three-hundred, seventy-seven

377. That’s the number of patterns on Ravelry for knit OR crochet, free* pattern-based, worsted wool-made fingerless gloves. My friend, Sarah, asked her Twitter friends (or “tweeps”) if someone would knit her a pair of fingerless gloves. She’s a writer, you see, and I can imagine your hands can get rather chilly in those little cafes, typing away on a laptop.

I already know what yarn I’m going to use, some Neighborhood Fibre Company Worsted in a great mix of blues named after my neighborhood (all NFC stuff is named after DC neighborhoods, you see). Here’s a sample of that yarn, which I also used to make myself a shawl to keep my shoulders warm on cool days at work. Isn’t it gorgeous? (This photo is actually my background and lock screen image on my phone, I love it so much.)

So, of those 377 patterns, which to pick?

Sarah is a caring, friendly geek. She reads lots of fantasy and sci-fi, can quote the West Wing word for word, never forgets a name/face/where she met you, always opts for a handmade gift over a purchased one, and has a passion for non-profit fundraising.

Well, crap. That doesn’t help at all!

[Ya know what Ravelry needs, a Compare To function. Like "I can't decide between these 10 pattern, give me the quick stats on things like elements (lace, cables, etc) and construction technique (seamed up, knit in the round). Like how you buy a digital camera or a laptop online. ]

I quickly went through all 11 pages of pattern options, throwing out any that were too basic, too weird, used multiple colors (though stripes are okay, I can make them stripe-less), weren’t really fingerless, or otherwise seemed totally like something she wouldn’t like.

I’m still left with 22 options. Far better than 377 but, still.

Here’s the contenders, starting with the most basic then textured then lace then cables:

(Non-Rav folks, click on the last link after each pattern, it’ll take you somewhere you can find a photo of a finished example of that pattern. Didn’t want to take the time to ask for photo permissions so linking instead.)

So, Sarah, which ones do you want? (And does your sister and/or Chelsea want a pair, too?)

————-

* Do not lecture me about how I should be willing to pay for a pattern, I am. Fingerless gloves just seem to be rare items that have patterns for purchase versus free. Only 131 available online that meet the WW condition, actually.

(Rav link, fave example, pattern):

Take me, I’m yours

Ever have one of those moments when your stuff just feels like it’s eating you alive? Like all you want in the world is to trash it all and restart. I’m having a horrible, crushing feeling that I have gone to get some things out of my house. I looked at the most recent Ikea catalog the other day and decided it’s high time I got rid of some of this stuff I’ve been holding onto for little to no reason.

Which is why I’m putting the following up for grabs: just tell me what you want, cover the postage, and it’s yours. International is fine and dandy with me, long as you’re willing to pay. All packages will get mailed, at the latest, the week of August 30th. [If you're not familiar with the US Postal Service's rates, see this site. Use zip code 90210 which is nowhere near where I live but gives you an idea.]

It’s mostly yarn and other knitting-related stuff but there’s also some FOs one of my (few) non-knitterly friends may want to claim. Assume a link goes to Ravelry unless I indicate otherwise.

Note: I have two cats and cannot, in any way, guarantee they didn’t snuggle up to any of the items I’m offering. You will find stray cat hairs on the yarn (and, who knows, in the books). No other allergens should be present.

Yarn

  • Taylor Family Farms: Approximately 200 yards in each of two colors. 100% wool yarn from small family farm in rural Vermont. Worsted to Bulky weight. Very “sheepy” in both feel and, well, scent.
  • Unknown source: Approximately 250 yards fingering weight, 2 ply, alpaca from a small alpaca farm outside Findlay, Ohio. Purchased by me two years ago. It’s amazing but just won’t behave for me.
  • 100%purewool.com Merino Lace: 950 yards of Merino laceweight. Not as red as I had thought. [Claimed by Ana]
  • Dark Horse Fantasy: High-quality acrylic, worsted weight. At least 1,000 yards never knit. Estimate additional 300 which have been knit and frogged but still in great shape. Would make a nice sweater for the wool-allergic. [Claimed by Ana]
  • Knit Picks Gossamer: 440 yards wool laceweight. Got via a Rav trade. Just not my sort of thing due to the short color repeats. [Claimed by Lee]
  • Malabrigo Lace: 470 yards laceweight. Not a fan of the single ply, personally. Made a great lace shawl out of the other skein I had but the stuff drove me nuts while knitting it. Everyone else seems to love it, though. [Claimed by Ana]
  • Various small amounts of the following:
    1. Cascade Eco Wool: approx 100 yards dark brown, approx 200 yards dark blue
    2. Debbie Bliss Fez: approx 100 yards bulky wool blend, very warm, would make a great hat [Claimed by Jocelyn]
    3. Arucania Nature wool: approx 100 yards, some frogged, light worsted, 100% wool
    4. Tahki Yarns Tinka: approx 100 yards, some frogged, bulky, made a hat for Alison in the other ball of it I had

Books

  1. Son of Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller (Amazon US link) [Claimed by Lee]
  2. Sock Innovation by Cookie A. (Amazon US link) [Claimed by Lee]
  3. Knitting to Go Deck (Amazon US link) [These are slightly worse for wear. Purchased for a discount from at Border's due to their condition.]

Other Stuff


  1. 3.5 mm crochet hook, Hiya Hiya brand, metal, rounded bamboo handle
  2. 5.00 mm crochet hook, same type as previous
  3. US size 9 bamboo DPNs, Brittany brand, 5 in total [Claimed by Jocelyn]
  4. US size 1 1/2 (2.25 mm, I think) bamboo DPNs, Brittany brand, 6 in total [Claimed by Jocelyn]
  5. Loet drop spindle with sheepies on it: If you’re not local to me, don’t claim this. I have zero faith I could figure out how to wrap it for shipping.
  6. Approx 2 oz roving, missing label, can assure 100% wool and very soft

Finished Objects

No lectures in the comments about how I have all sorts of people who need handknit gifts and these should be given to them. I want these out of my house ASAP.

  1. Blue and purple Citron, knit in 100% wool from Neighborhood Fiber Co. (link to project)
  2. Citron Close-Up

  3. Clapotis scarf, knit in wool/cashmere blend, blocked out beautifully but have no decent pics yet and Flickr hates me suddenly (link to project) [Claimed by Jocelyn]
  4. Traveling woman, knit in wool/nylon blend, smaller shawl good for a fashion statement vs warmth (link to project)
  5. Traveling Woman 002

  6. 198 yards of heaven, knit in wool/acrylic blend, very small shawl, anyone have a little girl in their life who likes green things? (link to project) [Claimed by Jocelyn, for her super-adorable neice]
  7. Day 049 - Distraction

  8. Dark blue Ishbel, knit in wool, smaller shawl like number 3 (link to project) [Claimed by Jocelyn]
  9. Dark-Blue-Ishbel

awake

It’s amazing how much more awake you are when you go to bed an hour and a half earlier (for those playing along at home, that means I was out by nine). I figured I should probably take advantage of the awake-ness and write a short (or, possibly, very long) blog post. Plus, I really don’t feel like getting to work at 7:30 and today’s not a scheduled run morning. Time to kill at home and all that.

1. I’ve been knitting a lot recently. Finished the sweater, finished the shawl for coworker Kim, started and finished a worsted shawl for myself, started a shawl which I frogged, and started a sweater for myself. All the photos I’ve taken are “off.” I blame the new iPhone wanting to get in as much light as possible. I got so used to the old one not letting any light in that I tend to overlight (is that a word?) photos now. Go to my Flickr to see what I mean.

2. Crochet has taken a backseat to knitting. I did start a doily yesterday (in worsted weight, ’cause I’m a rebel). I really need to get working on some amigurumi animals and imaginary critters for the young children in my life. My little cousin is having heart surgery today and I meant to make her a critter and just never got around to it. I feel like a horrible cousin. :(

3. Running is still going. Seven weeks until my race. Ten miles last Sunday, eleven this Sunday. I’ve realized that my body likes 8 miles then spends the rest of the mileage convincing me I shouldn’t run any longer. My shoulders, hips, and bottoms of my feet all, suddenly, start to hurt at mile marker 8. Hopefully that’ll pass soon so I can much more easily complete the last miles. It’s one thing to be too worn out to go, another when you’re body’s just being stupid and painful.

4. I’m considering another half marathon in Pennsylvania’s Amish country in November, but Matt wants me to wait and see how my first goes. A long November run sounds heavenly plus I always hear so much about Lancaster County but have never actually been.

5. I have three and a half weeks of work before I return to school which means 3.5 weeks to complete my boss’s to do list. I like a good challenge. I also have to schedule in a time for Alison and I’s grand school supply shopping trip and textbook ordering. No other real prep required. Oh, how I do not miss having to move into a dorm just before classes begin or otherwise adjust to returns to school. There’s a big mental adjustment from corporate world to school world but that can be more gradual.

6. Speaking of that transition, I think I will focus more on dressing up this school year. Get into the mindset that “grown up” clothes are my real wardrobe, not jeans and t-shirts. Sure, I’ll still wear them on weekends, but dressing up more during the week will probably help me to act more professionally on campus. Wait, that sounds wrong. I always conduct myself with a modest amount of professionalism, but something about school just brings out my immature side. Must find a way to quiet it. As Jocelyn says, I am a grown-ass woman. [Anyone else picture their mother, looking disappointed every single time they curse?] I should learn to act like it (almost) all of the time.

7. Sometime this week I will have a post in which I’ll have some FOs and yarn I want to get rid of for the cost of shipping. It’s all been weighing me down and I just need it out of here. The timing depends on when I have an evening to really take time and get some decent photos.

8. We went to the National Zoo on Saturday, but I’ll talk more about that in another post once I get the photos off Matt’s camera. It’s a rather nice zoo, seeing as it’s free and we went on one of the most beautiful days we’ve had this summer (read: very crowded). I just wish you didn’t have to walk the whole way uphill at the end of your visit to get to the exit that’s closest to the Metro.

9. We’re looking into doing a Caribbean (1 r, 2 b’s, must remember) cruise again this summer. Trying not to get too excited. [My favorite story my mom tells about her Spanish students is the kid who asked, "Who is Al Caribe?" It took her awhile to figure out they meant "al caribé" as in "to the Caribbean." The textbook had all dialogue text in capital letters, it was just a matter of incorrectly parsed capitalization on the student's part.]