Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Better late than never

"Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light." (Albert Schweitzer)

I'm a little behind on my holidays. Over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, I finally finished my last Christmas gift: these worsted weight socks out of Paton's SWS (soy wool stripe) yarn in the Natural/Navy colorway for my father-in-law. They went off in the mail last week.

Also mailed last week was my final swap package to Christy at Confessions of a Misplaced Southern Belle for the Sweet Goodness Sister Swap, which was supposed to be mailed in mid-December. Instructions were to send something sweet (I sent homemade toffee) plus the recipe in a bag (a sweater purse, naturally), plus something kitchen-y (two cookie cutters: a bone for her dogs and a heart for the upcoming holiday!) plus a gift. I made Christy a yarn wreath like the one I made for my mom, only in Christy's favorite color, purple. Sorry I was so late, Christy. Hope you like it.

So, finally, with just two weeks to go, I'm turning my attention to Valentine's Day, even though most bloggers have been planning, crafting and posting about it since the day after New Year's! I joined the Sweet Goodness Valentine's Swap and have been matched with Tamy of 3 Sides of Crazy. I'm a little bit behind and have just checked out her blog. Turns out she grew up in Santa Clarita, California, where I had my first newspaper job for three years. Small world! I'm supposed to mail my creative hanging Valentine to her by the end of the week, and I'm going to try to make that deadline. I'm getting out my felt tonight...

But if I was smart, I'd start Easter crafting now!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Babies R Us

"The more one gives to others, the more one possesses of one's own." (Lao Tzu, Tao-te Ching)

I can tell already that this is going to be a year of knitting baby sweaters. If I thought all my friends were pregnant while I was going through infertility and starting the adoption process, that was just a warm-up for this year. For example, about six people I know are due in April alone!

Here is the first baby sweater of the year. It's the same as this one here (I needed a quick tried and true pattern, plus I had the yarn on hand.) It's for Dan and Linh, who are due in mid-February. Dan was in a theology group with Ed at St. Clement's, and his wife, Linh, who is Vietnamese-American, has been so sweet in helping us with any Vietnam questions. So I wanted to do something special for her (besides the sweater), so on the day of the shower I found this pattern for a knitted rat. The Year of the Rat begins in a few weeks so her baby will be born in that lunar year (unless he/she is early!). Linh's family appreciated it, and I may knit one for our kids. It only took about an hour.

Speaking of babies, one reason I haven't blogged much in the past week is that I spent four days in Florida last weekend with my friend Kristin and her little boy, Lincoln (cutest baby ever--till I have my own), hosted by her parents in Delray Beach. It was 80 degrees and sunny the first two days, but cloudy and cold the second two.

No worries: I stayed in and started another baby sweater (below) for our neighbor's baby Jovie. The one I gave her at her shower was too miniature, so I thought she deserved something she could actually wear. And I wanted to knit something girly, so I'm using Yarn Harlot's pattern, and I think I'm going to try adding the daisies. I also adjusted it a bit so that the seed stitch edge is 5 stitches or rows deep, rather than 3. The yarn is a peach soft wool store brand wool for Joann's that I got for $2 something a skein.

One final bit of exciting news: I'm typing this post on our new computer! Ed and I have been limping along with a very old computer (which we bought used from the above-mentioned neighbors) for almost a year now. We had already replaced the cord and it broke again, so we decided to just bite the bullet and buy a new laptop. I love using my mom's Compaq Presario at her house, so we got that and so far I love it. It was pretty cheap ($650) but I am embarrassed to say we got it at Wal-Mart (Ed bought it online, and I didn't know.) I usually avoid Wal-mart because they are not a very progressive employer, but I have read that they're making some improvements. I suppose it's not that much worse than Best Buy and I guess it's hard to buy a computer from a non-big-box store. (This from a woman who buys most of her yarn from Michael's.) That old liberal guilt rears its ugly head!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bless this mess: Goals for 2008

"No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently." (Agnes de Mille)

See that pile of crap in my kitchen? I'm happy to say it's no longer there, thanks to my wonderful husband who sorted through it all. He's been such a wonderful organizer lately: sorting all the receipts for taxes, getting his school papers all filed, cleaning up after me. Thank God that he's getting organized, because I sure am not. I am just trying to keep up with what has to be done each day, and consequently getting farther and farther behind. But believe it or not, I have been knitting and doing some crafting, but I just have no time to post about it.

Today I begin catching up. First, my creative goals for 2008:

Crafting Goals: By way of introduction, let me say there will not be lots of crafting goals this year, because I sense that my hobby will take something of a back seat as some other responsibilities become more time-consuming. Still, here are some goals:

1. Keep making gifts.
2. Try to do the St. Nick's Craft Fair again next year; come up with new products for kids.
3. Make things for Sam and Sophie (if I'm not depressed about it).
4. Learn to knit using charts.
5. Make more things with felt: stuffies, blankets, etc.

Decorating Goals: A few things we have left to do on this place before we think about moving...

1. Paint kitchen ceiling
2. Paint last wall in bedroom; get room-darkening drapes.
3. Paint solid wood closet doors. Maybe do solid wood doors on rooms.

Blogging Goals: Keep blogging. That's it!

Pretty sparse, I know. But I will have some news to share next week that will explain this all. Sorry to be cryptic, but know that it's not a baby!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Year in review

"And now let us welcome the new year full of things that have never been." (Rainer Marie Rilke)

Remember how I made my sister the Jesse Tree this year because she made one for me but didn't make one for herself? These few leftover Christmas photos include one of something I made for her several years ago and never made for myself (though I have all the materials). Maybe that will be one of my craft goals for the year. But before I set new ones, let's see how I did on the ones I set last year. I had a lot of them:

Craft goals:

1. Master how to knit socks. (I wouldn't say "master" but I'm on my third pair!)

2. Make enough recycled purses to sell at a fall craft fair. (Woo-hoo! Major success here. Sold almost 30 at St. Gertrude St. Nick Fair.)

3. Open etsy shop and sell purses or other items there. (Yup. I've sold more felt scraps than actual crafts though. Still, goal accomplished--even though my shop is empty right now.)

4. Knit sweaters, make clothes for Sam and Sophie. (Made lots of baby sweaters for other babies, but nothing for S&S.)

5. Continue to make gifts for friends and family. (Yes, we had a very handmade Christmas this year.)

6. Participate in swaps as I feel comfortable. (Mostly the Sweet Goodness swaps, which I've really enjoyed.)

7. Continue thrifting. Maybe sell some thrifted stuff on ebay. (I've really embraced thrifting but haven't done tons of selling. Some though.)

8. Knit from yarn stash as much as possible to try to get it to a manageable, storable size. (I've done OK on this and recently reorganized my stash. Need to do a little more to make it all fit though.)

Decorating goals:

1. Finish Ed's bathroom: new sink, toilet, paint, shower curtain. (Done! Thanks to Ed.)

2. Decorate nursery. (Gave up on this. I'm now packing away all the baby stuff. We need our study back.)

3. Organize desk area in bedroom. (Did, but am now moving it back to the study.)

4. Organize craft supplies, especially yarn stash. (Did, but a never-ending project, it seems. Time for a good clean-out.)

Blogging goals:

1. Convert to Blogger Beta. (Did. Not so scary.)

2. Learn how to do custom banner. (Yes, and part of major "re-branding" of Spiritual Knitter!)

3. Make categories. (Came with new Blogger. Need to go back and categorize old posts, though.)

4. Merge "Spiritual Decorator" with "Spiritual Knitter." (Haven't done yet.)

5. Resume "Spiritual Bookworm." (Oops. Not so good at this one.)

6. Continue blogging. (I'm not an everyday or even a super-regular blogger, but I keep up pretty regularly, or try to.)

Not too bad. I'll try to post some 2008 goals before January is over! (Gratuitious holiday photo: Handknit stockings, mine from a woman my grandmother had knit them for us 30-some years ago; Clare's from my mom who copied the pattern and has made them for everyone in our family.)

** Thanks to Jassman at Follow Your Bliss for the quote. She also is encouraging bloggers to pick one word to focus on in 2008. I'll try to think of one for the post with my new goals.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thank you note

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." (Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran)

Does anyone write thank you notes anymore? I do, and I know my sister has taught her kids to write them. Even when they were really little, they would dictate them to her and she would write them. Some were so cute! My friend Kristin also writes thank you notes in the voice of her 1-year-old and I'm sure he'll be writing them as soon as he is able. This is a practice I would like my children to acquire early on.

I haven't written my Christmas ones yet, but I wanted to post some of my awesome gifts, especially the ones related to my creative pursuits. The most creative gift was this purse made from an old book ("Heidi," of course!) that my sister gave me. You might recall that I collect Heidi books. The artist, Caitlin from Rebound Designs, did a beautiful job, though I'm mad now that I see how much sister paid. Of course, my immediate thought is, "I could make that!" Don't be surprised if I try! The purse is sitting on the most adorable apron from my in-laws from my fave store that I never shop at: Anthropologie. Thanks, Marge and Ed (and Trish for picking it out). I wore it around the house in Philadelphia, even though I wasn't cooking!

I also had two knitting book gifts: My sister-in-law gave me Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's first book. And she's not even a knitter! Thanks, Trish! My mom also lent me her copy of the Yarn Harlot's latest, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off. Finally my Aunt Pat gave me No Sheep for You: Knit Happy with Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo and Other Delights by Amy Singer, which I can't wait to start reading. Will share more about that book later. Thanks, Aunt Pat!

The biggest gift was a weekend ski trip from my parents for our family. Here are some photos of us at Granite Peak in Wausau, Wisconsin. The hill was awesome and the weather perfect on the first day. But Sunday was rainy, so we decided not to ski and left after a nice brunch (gift from my sister and brother-in-law--Thanks!)

That's my parents. (My dad is very proud of his bright blue cowboy hat from the 1970s with pins from all the places he's skied.) I'm proud of them for still skiing even though they're in the mid-60s! They get a senior discount, and they should! Photo below is my sister's kids on the chairlift. They are all great skiers (at 10, 12, and 15) and got along really well this weekend.

On the way home, Ed and I just missed a huge multi-car pileup accident on the 90 just south of Madison. At least two people died in this accident and we were only nine cars away from it. We were driving in really heavy fog and had just remarked that this is the kind of weather that results in those huge pileups, when we saw brake lights and slowed down to a complete stop. After awhile, we saw people walking so went up and saw that just nine cars ahead of us was the last car in the pileup in the ditch. We were stuck on the freeway for over three hours, but I wasn't complaining, because I was grateful to be alive with an untotaled car.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Eve of the eve

"All change is a miracle to contemplate, but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant." (Thoreau)

Ed and I met through an organization called Highsight, which offers scholarships and tutoring and mentoring to inner-city high school students. Their biggest fundraiser is a huge black-tie event at Chicago's Union Station called Eve of the Eve (because it's on the night before New Year's Eve). I knew Ed was the one for me when he returned early from his Christmas home to take me to Eve of the Eve the first year we were dating.

This year we went to another "Eve of the Eve" party--a fancy wedding of Ed's friend Joe Canavan. It was held at Old St. Joseph's, a historic church in downtown Philadelphia with the beautiful reception at the Ben Franklin Center. Ed's parents (above) also went, since they are friends with the Canavans.

I finished most of my Christmas knitting while in Philadelphia (one pair of socks for Ed's dad to go). Here are Trish and Marge posing with their felted wool mittens made with a pattern from my mom. These are the warmest mittens ever. I made grey ones with red trim for Ed's mom and lime green ones with fuscian trim for Ed's sister.

I plan on doing some "year in review" and goals for 2008 but haven't had the chance yet. Once home from Philly, we're off to Wisconsin for a ski trip with my family. Non-stop fun, I'm telling you. And let the baby sweater knitting of 2008 begin.