Archive | August 2015

What to do on a quiet Monday?

Monday again. Oh Monday, how I love you. Strange, I know. I do enjoy my weekends with my family, but after two days of chores and noise and people, the silence of Monday morning is bliss. And even though I have to go buy all the groceries tomorrow, today I have nothing on the agenda. So much time in front of me; whatever will I do?

Maybe I will knit! I have some new yarn to play with. I took the mother out for a birthday lunch last week, and she lives very close to a LYS. Of course I HAD to go! And they’d just marked down all the Mochi yarn to make room for new Malabrigo. It was all half off! I love this yarn, love the colors.IMG_3198Nope, I don’t really have a plan for it all, except that red/orange/blue yarn in the middle. It looks like a sunset to me and I want it to be a cowl named Arizona Sunset. I just haven’t found the right pattern. I’m leaning toward another River Deep, Mountain High cowl, since there are some beautiful mountains out there.

But I’m trying hard to resist casting on another project. I have four WIPs already plus I need to make another school-color hat. Oh, and guess what I did? Anticipating continued demand for those hats, I bought two skeins of Caron One Pound yarn, thinking they’d make lots and lots of hats. And I made one. It was thicker yarn than I’d been using, and it came out enormous. So I’d need to start with fewer stitches. But it also came out all stiff. The skein itself didn’t feel that rough or itchy, but somehow when it was all knitted up, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t soft at all. Yes, of course I prefer natural fibers, but for this kind of project I need the affordability of acrylic. So. Back to Michael’s I go today, in hopes of finding a better acrylic. Note to self: don’t settle for the cheapest yarn if it’s at all possible.

Maybe I’ll fit some writing in my day too. I’ve been feeling the urge lately, and I decided to pull out a manuscript from several years ago. It was actually the first one I wrote, and the one that’s the most personal, and I want to see if it’s something worth revising and polishing. I wrote it on a very old computer, so right now I’m re-typing it from a print-out, revising as I go. It definitely needs work, but I think I still like it.

Oh! Guess what else?? Grace hasn’t been waking me up! The girl really wanted Grace to sleep in her room, so we tried it and it seems to be working. She still wakes up early-ish, like 5 or 6, but that’s doable. Clearly she was just lonely and wanted to be with people. And since the girl says I don’t post enough photos of Grace, I’ll close with this one. She’s a wonderful napper during the day. IMG_3196

Grief Takes Away So Much

This morning, as I lazed on the couch with my cup of tea, I was idly scrolling through Twitter when a tweet caught my eye. “It didn’t surprise me, when my parents were dying, that I couldn’t write. But it shocked me…that I couldn’t read.” It was a teaser with a link to a NY times column, and it was so unexpected, and so close to home.

Four years ago, I was working full-time as a retail manager, but I was also a bookaholic. I read as much as I could. I’d grown up with books, worked in my mother’s used-book store for years, even went to a seminar for antiquarian book dealers. And even though I was no longer in the business, I still loved books. All kinds of books. My parents and I shared a lot of authors, too, mostly mysteries/thrillers. We shared Ridley Pearson, Carol O’Connell, Philip Margolin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Kathy Reichs, Linda Fairstein, and so many more. I shared a lot of fiction with my mom: Maeve Binchy, Nancy Thayer, Elin Hilderbrand, Kristin Hannah.

Then, as many of you know, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. I still worked, but managed to get out to Arizona for a few visits. I remember one trip, on the way there, I read my first Lee Child book. Lee Child was my dad’s absolute favorite author, and he’d said this book was the best. I read it, and it was thrilling and gripping and tense, and I had a grand time talking to my dad about it when I got there.

My dad died in spring of 2012, and I stopped reading. For a very long time, I didn’t really read anything. I watched a lot of TV, I played stupid games on my phone. I learned to crochet a few months after my dad died, and that was my outlet. Then knitting. It was creative and soothing, and didn’t remind me of him at all.

Over time, I started picking up books again. My mom and I still share a fondness for fiction, and we swapped what we called “light, frothy books”. They were fun, didn’t require much thought, didn’t challenge me or push any of those grief buttons. I’m so glad I had you, Jane Green and Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella and Susan Wiggs, Debbie Macomber. I still love you, still read you all religiously.

I shared some YA books with my daughter. I’ve always loved YA books, and even though these were often darker subject matter, it was okay because it was different. Thank you, Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell, Laurie Halse Anderson, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins.

After a couple of years, I started reading heavier books again, ones that made me think and cry and feel extreme emotions, and it was good. And just the other day, the boy and I went to the library, and I came home with six books, and I plowed through five of them within a week. It felt marvelous to fall into books like that again, to get that feeling of utter escape, that feeling where you close the book and you’re still thinking about the characters hours later.

For so long, I wrapped myself in the soft cushion of yarn crafts, and it saved me. I still love it, still knit more than I read, probably. But I think I’m at a point where there’s more of a balance. I can be a knitter AND a reader. A yarnaholic AND a bookaholic.

But I still can’t read mysteries. Well, no. I take that back; I’ve read a few. Harlan Coben is still a favorite. But they’re few and far between. I’ve never read another Lee Child book. I have an O’Connell and two Fairsteins in my To-Be-Read stash, and I pick them up periodically, read the description, and put them back. They’re too dark. There’s too much pain and anger and ugliness in those worlds. And of course, they still remind me of my dad. I think I’ll get back to them, someday. Until then, there’s still a whole wide world of books to explore, and I’m so relieved that I could find my way back to it.

Settling Into the New Groove

4 a.m. comes awfully early. Grace is still thinking she needs to be an early riser, and it’s not too fun. This morning I got up with her so Alex could at least sleep until his alarm, and I didn’t even let them out. I just stretched out on the couch with a blanket, and Grace happily cuddled up with me, and Jack curled up on the floor in front of me, and we all went back to sleep. I guess she’s just lonely? I’d let her sleep in my room, except Alex isn’t a fan. Maybe we need to just put her upstairs with the girl and close the door. I don’t know. We’ll get some curtains for the dining room, and I’m seriously considering a noise machine for them, to block some of the outside noises. There’s got to be a solution, because I can’t get up at 4 a.m. every day for the rest of her life. Until then, forgive me if my posts are few and far between.

We’re all settling in nicely in our new hometown. The boy and I explored our local library recently and were delighted to find a TARDIS! That’s a good sign, for sure! IMG_3177The kids are happy with their new schools and teachers. We had high school open house last night and it was the first time I wished I could go too! The teachers were all so passionate and enthusiastic about their classes, and several were very blunt about saying their class would be hard, and the kids might not get A’s, at least at first. I don’t think that ever happened in our old district. Oh sure, we had some great teachers, but not *all* of them, and I only remember one teacher ever warning us that a class would be hard. I *want* the classes to be hard. This is why we moved; so the kids would be in classes that would challenge them, make them think and grow. The girl is in a Gifted English class that will actually read books! She had one class in either 6th or 7th grade that had her read one novel, and that’s it. That’s disgraceful, in my English-major book-nerd opinion. So yeah, I think this will be a good school year.

I spent another day in the yard over the weekend and cleared out one more side of the fence. Before: IMG_3180

After:IMG_3182And that’s the bulk of it! Now I need the husband’s help to clean out stumps and pull out the old fence, and we’ll do some tree-trimming, and then we can start building our new fence HOORAY! We will all be happy. See that water pump there? (No, it’s not functional.) The puppies are ALWAYS getting their chains wrapped around it. Then they get frustrated and bark. Then we have to go rescue them. It’s not a fun game.

Yesterday I sat outside with them for a while and let them laze in the sunshine while I worked on my newest project, another Hitchhiker. IMG_3187I have other projects on the needles, but none of them are as calming and soothing as this one. I’m in love with garter stitch. But I need to set it aside, because I have another request for a school-colors hat! The first three have been delivered and were quite popular, as I understand, and someone saw one of them and needs her own. How about that? My evil plan is working, bwahahaha! Give me time, and I’ll hat the whole school!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

There’s been a lot of ups and downs around here the last few days. Kids are getting adjusted to school, and that doesn’t always run smoothly. I’m trying to fit my yarn time in around my being-mom time, and that doesn’t always run smoothly either. But let’s start with the good. I’ve got one school spirit hat done, one on the needles, and one in the queue. IMG_3164The bad news there is that doing so much moving last month gave me some tendinitis in my left elbow, the weekend of yard work aggravated it, and knitting doesn’t help it. It’s so sad. I’m wearing the support band when I knit and I’m taking ibuprofen, but it means I can’t knit for hours without feeling it. And speaking of bad, here’s proof of a bad puppy.IMG_3167I was gone for five minutes this morning to take the boy to school. This is what I found when I came home. Grace apparently loves these shoes. I thought she was getting better about chewing stuff up, but the reprieve seems to be over. And it gets worse. Oh yes, much worse. THIS is what I found after one of my errands yesterday.IMG_3157This was a neatly wound ball of hand-dyed silk from India, and I’d left it on a side table waiting to start a Hitchhiker. I found it on the floor. Thankfully neither of them seemed interested in eating it, just making a terrible terrible mess of it. Now I have to try to untangle it. Oy, these puppies. Don’t worry, I still love them. I mean, how can you not? IMG_3152IMG_3162I want to end on a high note, so I’ll show you the little beauty I got in the mail yesterday. I supported Vice Yarns, a company that makes the most gorgeous hand-dyed yarns, on Kickstarter and I got my reward yesterday!! This is Brazen, 250 yards of gorgeous superwash DK, and I’ll get a shawl pattern for it too! Isn’t it gorgeous?? It’s a special colorway, just for the Kickstarter supporters. You can check out their campaign here, though I don’t know if you can still contribute. If not, well, I hope you see their yarns in your LYS soon.IMG_3155

It’s Raining on the First Day of School

My kids started their new schools today. They were both a little nervous. The girl was excited too, the boy not so much, but mostly because he’s not a big fan of school. I’m nervous for them. I remember how scary it was for me, those first days of middle school and high school. But they’re good kids, smart kids, friendly kids. They’ll be fine. Right? Yes, they’ll be fine. Luckily the rain didn’t start until after school started, so now it’s kind of cozy. Soon I’ll curl up on the couch and do some knitting.

So, knitting? Yes, knitting. I finished my second Hitchhiker last week and I’m in love with it. I wish I didn’t have to give it to my friend. The yarn was heavenly and the colors are gorgeous, albeit impossible to photograph well. IMG_3113IMG_3147I started a third Hitchhiker but instead of two strands of fingering weight yarn like this one, I was just using one, and the same size needle, which meant it was a much looser fabric. I didn’t like it it. It got frogged and I’ll start again with a size 3 soon. But in the meantime, I’m making school hats. This one was supposed to be for the girl but it’s too small so I guess it’ll be mine. And if it’s gonna be mine, I need to add a big ol’ pompom to the top. IMG_3148I’ve also gotten two requests for school spirit hats based on the one I donated to the auction basket! Yay! I’m donating some of the profit to the Booster club so it’ll be a win-win-win. I’m halfway done with one, and I need to stock up on more navy and gold yarn before I can start another. Wish I’d bought more at Joann last week!

I would have gotten more knitting done except my weekend was mostly full of yard work. I don’t think this yard has been well-maintained in years. The front garden bed wasn’t too bad, but there’s a crazy overgrown bush that I tried to tame to no avail. It will be removed soon. I don’t like how it hides our pretty house. IMG_3121And the back? Good grief. There’s so much stuff growing around the fence line, and it all needs to be removed so we can replace the fence. I got one section done this weekend; two more to go. IMG_3127It’s kind of exciting. I imagine the neighbors seeing it and being pleased that we’re cleaning up the property. Mostly I can’t wait until we can paint the house. As near as I can tell, it’s been this color for over 15 years. I’m not sure if it’s even been painted in that time. Imagine what a difference a fresh coat of paint will make! Mmm, I can’t wait. But until then, I’ll have to be happy pulling weeds. Oh, not happy. Never happy pulling weeds. Satisfied, I guess. But today it’s raining, so I have a good excuse to NOT pull weeds. Today it’s raining, which is the perfect kind of day for knitting. IMG_3135

Tuesday Morning on a Wednesday Afternoon

I found yarn in a somewhat surprising place the other day: a Tuesday Morning store! I’d never been to one before, but my new hometown has one and the girl and I decided to stop in. Behold, they had two shelves of yarn! Not just any yarn either: good yarn. And good prices too. When that happens, it’s so hard for me to not buy it just because it’s such a good price. I was able to resist a little, but still came home with more than I need. (I know. Any yarn would be more than I “need”.) IMG_3111Four skeins of Erika Knight worsted wool in wisteria, 2 skeins of Erika Knight maxi wool in royal purple, one skein of boysenberry merino superwash, and a skein of teal Louisa Harding mercerized cotton. And they were all at least half the retail price! I love yarn bargains. Nope, I have no idea what I’ll make with any of it. Doesn’t matter. My name is Bonny and I’m a yarn addict.

Speaking of yarn, I spent ALL morning yesterday knitting a school spirit hat. The girl’s new high school band is auctioning off a basket on Saturday and I offered to contribute a hat. When I offered, I didn’t realize I was giving myself a 2-day deadline. Eek. No problem: two cheesy movies and a nature documentary later, I had a finished hat. IMG_3109 IMG_3110I love the look, especially the pompom, but I was disappointed in myself in the construction. The joins weren’t as clean as I’m capable of, and it’s bigger than I expected. I was about to toss it aside and just donate a gift certificate, but the girl insisted it was cute, she liked it, and I should donate it. Oh, and would I make her one too?? All right then. Guess it was a success. Hat #2 is currently on the needles. But first, I’m *thisclose* to finishing the teal and gray Hitchhiker, so that’s my goal for tonight. This weekend will be full of yard work. Ugh. I’m sure the puppies will miss us while we’re all outside. IMG_3112Happy Friday! Hope your weekend holds more fun stuff than mine does!

Pleasant Yarny Surprises

Gosh, I don’t even know where to start. Yesterday was one of those days where I was running around all day long, with barely a break in between commitments, and I think I’m still recovering. There were some good moments in there (the boy was able to get choir and art added to his schedule, the girl got her band photos taken) but also some not so fun stuff (his locker wouldn’t open, dental checkups). The day was capped off with a school meeting that lasted 90 minutes instead of the 30 I was expecting. After starting the errands at 9:30, finally at 8 p.m. I was done. So yeah, long day. But the best part of the day? The Preservation committee approved our fence plan! That means we don’t have to wait for the next meeting, and we can start work immediately! The husband has decided he wants to do the work himself so we can save on labor and upgrade materials. I’m fine with it because I know he’ll do a great job but also because it means we don’t have to wait the 5-10 weeks the fence companies quoted us. So I’m guessing this weekend there will be some yard work going on in my backyard. Want to come help?

I did get an unexpected treat a couple of days ago. The girl had a hair appointment, so while she was getting beautified, I went to Joann. I don’t have one close by anymore, and I do so like their yarn department. Especially when so much of it is on clearance like it was that day!! Apparently they’re getting ready for fall colors, so I was able to score some awesome yarn for great prices. Here’s my haul. IMG_3079See that fuzzy dark pink Beautiful yarn in the back? I’ve been coveting that for ages but didn’t want to spend $6/skein. I got it for $2/skein! Woohoo! The blue/gold/white will be for school color hats, the rest is just because I liked it. I liked the raspberry Bernat Roving so much that I knit it up into a cowl that very night! IMG_3087Sorry for the poor photo; it doesn’t do the color justice at all. The yarn really is a beautiful dark pink raspberry. This is my fourth Thick and Quick Ribbed Cowl and it took me all of three hours, at the most. I love this pattern. It was free the first time I made it, but not anymore. Still, as much I love the pattern, and since it’s a measly $2.90, it was an easy decision to purchase it. I think the other skein of Roving I got, in that lovely teal, will become my fifth!

I got one other treat that day. I’d ordered a couple of row counters from AndreSue Knits and somehow couldn’t resist getting myself some fun stitch counters too. She shipped it the same day and I got it on Monday. Look at this fun little stash! IMG_3078 IMG_3083Happy knitting to ME! AndreSue also sells gorgeous hand-painted yarns that I drool over. Most of them are sock weight, which I don’t really knit with, but I’m still eyeing some of the Felicity worsted weight like this little lovely.

My calendar today is empty but don’t let that fool you. I still have a To Do list a mile long, so I suppose I better get cracking. After all, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can knit!