Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh baby

"Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams." (Pope John XXIII)

I knit this little hat for a special baby across the pond. I was so moved my Manda's story of her difficulties getting and staying pregnant and was heartwarmed by the support she received throughout blogland. I missed her shower-by-mail, but hope this gets to her in time to fit little Miss Lily.

I've knit this simple hat before (I think it's from One Skein) and out of this same yarn (Bernat Cottontots). It's quick and cute for little girls. I've got lots of baby knitting to do: there's a shower for my friend Kaycee next month, and my friend Bridget is also due soon. I may do a teddy bear for Bridget's little boy, and a sweater for Kaycee. My friend and former co-worker Kevin's wife is also due in April, so another teddy bear might be in order. I'm going to try to do as many baby gifts as possible from my stash. Plus I'd still like to do a stuffed rat for myself.

I hope to get a bunch of knitting done this weekend, since my sister and I are heading up to northern Wisconsin to visit my grandma. She's doing better and has been moved to a nursing home, and the doctors are now saying nothing is imminent. She's a fighter, that's for sure!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spring flowers

"The hand-knit sweater is superior to the machine-knit, not because it is more perfect, but on the contrary because its slight imperfections reveal it to be hand-knit." (American writer Mary McCarthy, Knitting: History, Fashion and Great Knitting Yarns)

It's been awhile since I posted an actual knitted finished object, but here you go! It's the Daisy sweater from Yarn Harlot, knit in a pretty peach wool (Joann's store brand, on clearance for $2-something a skein) with the cutest purple daisy buttons and purple and cream backstitched daisies (thanks, Mom, for the yarn).

Since I don't do multiple color knitting yet, this is the most decorative sweater I've ever knit and I love it! (Usually I just do solid color ones; in fact, I knit this sweater in light blue for my friend D'Arcy's little boy William). This one is in the middle size, which is supposed to be 6 month, but it looks a little large. Little Jovie (our neighbor's daughter) might not be wearing it until next fall.

It will be awhile before there are spring flowers in Chicago these days. We got a couple inches last night, so I decided to stay at my sister's in Aurora, rather than try to drive home to Chicago. I did my first snow shoveling of the season when I helped out with the driveway this morning. (Condo owners pay someone to shovel their walk!) It wasn't bad with three people shoveling. And it actually looks pretty with a fresh covering of white on all the trees.

I did get some beautiful flowers yesterday at work (photo of my new, although temporary, office for those who are interested): these gorgeous pink calla lilies were delivered from my sister-in-law Trish to congratulate me on my new job. She is so thoughtful with stuff like that. Thanks so much, Trish. Nothing like pink flowers to cheer you up at the end of February.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thfity Loot: Catching up

"When starting to practice, be eager like a deer trapped in a pen seeking to get out. In the middle be like a farmer during harvest not waiting for anything. In the end be like shepherd who has brought the flock home." (Dalai Lama, How to See Yourself as You Really Are)

Does Spiritual Knitter still hit those great Chicago thrift stores and estate sales? I know you've been wondering! I haven't posted any thrifty loot lately, in part because our camera always seems to act up when I want to take pictures, and in part because I've just been lazy in posting them. Also, it is true that I tried to cut back a bit, since our house is getting rather full of stuff. During the holidays, I really tried to focus on moving stuff OUT rather than IN.

Also, after the big parish craft fair in early December, I took a break from making sweater purses, so the need to thrift wool sweaters diminished somewhat--though I still pick up a few every time I'm at the thrift stores. Anyway, here are some finds from a visit back before Christmas to the Village Thrift.

Brand new wool Notre Dame hat in small size. I think this was $2. A leaf table runner: I'm a sucker for anything leaf motif'd.

I'm not sure what these fabric square are, maybe pillow covers. But I liked the cardinals on a corduroy background. I picture cutting them up and making them into something Christmasy. Most stuff like this at the Village is 40 cents or no more than $1.

Fabric from the linen department: kitchen themed placemats, a blue floral drapery panel (I love thick decorator fabric for purse linings), two pieces of fall-colored stripes.

I needed a pie plate and this vintage Corning one reminded me of the baking dishes my mom used to have (still has?). It was less than $1. And that cute mug!

A few Christmas textiles: the background is pillowcase with a vintage print, I think it is newish. Plus two Christmasy aprons, including one from a towel. My apron collection is really growing. I swear, aprons at the Village are usually 40 or 90 cents.

I did hit an estate sale this weekend and will share those photos later this week. Plus, stayed tuned: an acutal knitted Finished Object! I can't wait to share: it's adorable!

Finally, prayers or good thoughts would be appreciated for my 96-year-old grandmother who went in the hospital this week with congestive heart failure. It doesn't look good, although she has rallied so many times before, who knows? My sister and I hope to get up to Wisconsin to visit her in the next week or so, just in case it's the last time we get to see her. She was a home ec teacher and I'm sure I get many of my crafty genes from her.

Monday, February 18, 2008

February happenings

"Important principles may, and must, be inflexible." (Abraham Lincoln)

Happy Presidents' Day, everyone. It's not an official holiday at Aurora University, where I had my first day today. Light traffic, probably because of the holiday. I mostly just filled out HR forms and got my computer and phone set up. My class doesn't start for another few weeks.

I had a three-day weekend between jobs, and spent it at my parents' in Wisconsin, with my sister's family, too. We celebrated the February birthdays: I made a felt-covered journal for my niece (inspired by Paper and String, one of my favorite felt blogs). I have a lot of those felt letters left from the Jesse Tree, so I'll be personalizing lots of things. We had a fun weekend with the family and played lots of games: Delmuti , Cranium, and Pass the Bomb.

I started a scarf for my brother-in-law (above). My sister suggested something conservative, so I decided to use this brown/blue/grey sock yarn from a swap partner in a cool "woven" pattern. I didn't realize it would curl at the ends, so if that doesn't block out, I may have to figure out some way to fix it. It's on size 3 needles, but I already have about a foot done, so I hope to finish it before winter is over.

While in Wisconsin, Ed, my sister and I went cross-country skiing. It was just like old times for me and Amy, complete with a bota bag of red wine! We went to Menomonee Park, which was really nicely groomed. The weather was great too. Ed and I hope to go back in March if there's still snow.

Another February happening: Chinese New Year. Ed and I braved sub-zero wind chills to see the parade. See photos at our adoption blog.

Last but not least, I said goodbye after nine years at U.S. Catholic. (That's a picture of my office, before the big clean-out!) I didn't realize how sad it would be to pack up nine years of my work life. I threw a lot out, but I still had a lot of crap (now stored in our study/future nursery). I have a nice but temporary office at AU, so I won't be moving too much there very soon. On my last day (the 14th) I brought doughnuts and bagels for the whole company. There were quite a few tearful goodbyes. I made a lot of friends there, and did a lot of good work. I will miss it.

In the midst of all this, Valentine's Day kind of got lost. I didn't even see my "sweetheart" since Ed had class that night. I did have a drink with my friend Jane after work. She reminded me that when I taught her class for a semester about 10 years ago, I told her that I hated it and would never do it again! I hope I like it better this time around.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Felt good

"Now the seed of God is in us. The seed of a pear tree grows into a pear tree; the seed of a hazel tree grows into a hazel tree. The seed of God grows into God." (Meister Eckhart)

My etsy shop was empty for awhile but I recently stocked up with more felt and some vintage wallpaper. I spent a whole afternoon organizing my felt scraps and putting a bunch more bags of felt up for sale. Four sold before I was even done listing! I guess you all have a much harder time finding wool sweaters at the thrift store--especially in bright or pastel colors. There are still some left, and I'm always open to custom orders, so just let me know if you need any.

I recently heard from a woman who purchased a bunch of felt from me before Christmas. I'm always curious to see what people make out of it. She made these four gorgeous Christmas stockings and sent these photos to me to show me them. I know the last thing people are thinking about is Christmas, but aren't these beautiful! And you won't be surprised that her name is "Merry"!

Another absolutely adorable use of my felt was by Sarah in this owl backpack for her son, Jack. She based it on a Martha Stewart pattern that called for it to be knitted then felted. She bought felt from me and skipped the knitting part. Isn't he the cutest?

I've been busy these days packing up almost nine years of collecting lots of paper in my office at the magazine and getting ready for my first day at Aurora University. In between, I've been working on Jovie's sweater and just started another knitting project for a certain birthday boy this month. And I still owe my sister-in-law a little handmade birthday gift, but she will be very excited to hear that I found an adorable pink striped Hanna Andersson dress at the Salvation Army for 90 cents this weekend! (I'm very behind on posting thrift scores lately but will try to catch up.)

Movies to knit by: I can't remember which blogger hosted a "beautiful movie" event a few weeks ago, but someone recommended the Korean movie, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and ... Spring. I was intrigued because that's pretty close to the title of my infertility book that I never wrote. It was a beautiful movie. I highly recommmend it too. Last night we watched an Irish movie called Once. It was a bit slow, but in the end I liked it and really liked the music.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


"The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well." (Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)

Thanks to Tamy for today's quote. Tamy is my swap partner for the Sweet Goodness Hanging Hearts swap, which, as usual, I'm a bit late on. I finished my hanging heart on time but haven't mailed it yet. Tomorrow it will go in the mail.

I made the hanging heart out of--of course--felt from wool sweaters and buttons. Inspired by a pink and red plaid curtain I got at the thrift for $1.50, I went with a pink/red theme. I also was heavily influenced by these from Angie at Northreads (OK, I practically copied them but I'm giving credit here!) Then I made a bunch more and put them on this Christmas wreath for a little Valentine's Day color in our house.

(Ed took this photo of me making my Valentines over the weekend. Nice view of our big island in our kitchen, which is craft central on the weekend.)
Speaking of love, thank you to everyone who commented with congratulations on my new job (and to all you Obama supporters out there!) Blogger doesn't make it easy for me to reply to comments, plus I would never get around to it, but that doesn't mean I don't really appreciate all the love you're sending my way with your thoughts and prayers.

After Thursday my email will change to schlumpfh (at) yahoo (dot) com. And don't send any mail to me at the 205 W. Monroe address anymore. Countdown: 6 more days...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes we can!

"I'm asking you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours." (Barack Obama)

I just got home from working the phone banks at Obama headquarters here in Chicago. I was so inspired by the hundreds of volunteers there, all sitting on the floor using their cell phones to call people all over the country and remind them to vote for Obama on Super Tuesday. I talked to many wonderful people in New Mexico and New Jersey and nearly everyone I reached said they were supporting Barack. I've never felt this excited about a presidential candidate in my entire voting life!

After eight years of George Bush, I really believe this country needs a leader with integrity. And while no one is perfect, I believe Obama has that integrity and can bring our country together to deal with the many challenges facing us. In some ways, I believe the divisiveness among Americans is as threatening to our well-being as are terrorists. And Obama can help overcome that divisiveness. Not to mention that I am excited to vote for what I hope will be our first African American president (I would love to vote for our first woman president, too, but am less excited about her because of her early support for the war.)

If you want to learn more about Obama, visit his website. And if you're a supporter, join Julieree and become a "Crafter for Obama." Listen to some of his speeches, or watch this video, and tell me you don't get inspired! And if you're in a Super Tuesday state, don't forget to vote!

Update: I just found the Knitters for Obama group over at Ravelry. Come join!

Friday, February 01, 2008

My news

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." (Victor Frankl)

I can finally publicly tell my news: I have a new job. I am going to be a college teacher, an associate professor of communications at Aurora University, which is in Aurora, a suburb of Chicago. I will be teaching writing and journalism (among other things) primarily to adult students in evening classes. I will be an associate professor, not an adjunct, although not on the tenure track. It's really cool how AU has these clinical track professors who are expected to stay active in their field (journalism, for me) but still are full-time professors with all the other perks except for tenure. I am so excited--and nervous, too, since this is a new field for me. But everyone there seems so nice and eager to help me succeed. I am so grateful to my brother-in-law, who is the provost there, for suggesting this as a possible new career path for me.

But this means I am leaving U.S. Catholic, where I have been an editor for almost eight years. I love this magazine and think it's the best Catholic publication out there. I have the utmost respect for the other editors I have worked with and for the Claretians, the religious order that sponsors it. And I am proud of the work I've done there, especially in the last several years as managing editor. But ultimately the corporate culture in our larger organization has changed in such a way that isn't that great of a fit for my personality. And I will need a job with more flexibility for when Sam and Sophie come along. My hope is that my new job as a professor will allow me the opportunity to do some writing for the magazine, so I won't really be completely gone. I gave my notice today, so my last day will be February 15. So I'm going to be busy wrapping things up and getting ready for my first class, which starts in March. Academia, here I come!