18 February 2017

Just call me Alexander

That is how my day turned out yesterday. I seriously thought my name should have been changed from Amy to Alex. It was that bad. What was so bad, well, y'all remember how I was anxious about going to knit group? Normal for me but still, I shared and y'all collectively nodded. Well, here's how my evening went after I left...

Hobbit and I gathered up our stuff and toddled out the door. We jammed to Andy Black's The Shadow Side all the way down... our shared obsession usually falls in the music world - Hamilton, Panic! at the Disco, Andy Black. So we arrive right on time and claim the seating section that faces the window. A lovely long sofa and two wingback chairs with a fabulous barn wood coffee table between. I order us two hot chocolates and we set up camp to wait...

and we waited...
And no one showed up. Yep. No one. This is after I spent weeks gathering data on what days, times, and locations would work best for everyone. This is after I spent weeks making myself prepared for it because anxiety sucks. Not a single flipping soul who said they would come actually came.

So I sent a text to my husband and told him that, after over an hour of sitting and waiting, no one arrived. He said that I would not be remiss in packing my stuff up 30 minutes early and meeting him at Cracker Barrel for some supper. That's exactly what we did. Hobbit gathered up her gear and I mine, toddled our happy hineys to the truck, and left.

Comfort food is always a good idea when you've been utterly disappointed and you're crashing from anxiety. However, my comfort food was a bust too! Somehow, this supposed "cook" managed to take my chicken and dumplins and make the chicken over cooked and dry but the dumplins raw. Yeah. That takes a special kind of talent.

After wandering around the store and my husband buying the "most perfect turkey platter ever", we headed home. Jamming to Andy Black all the way and seat dancing. Once we got home, it was pj time and falling asleep watching "The Breakfast Club".

Overall, I can safely say with my hand on my heart, that it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Some days are like that... even in Australia.

17 February 2017

I guess the question is why...

Why do I do this to myself? I want two different things and both ultimately make me happy and sad. Sound confusing? Welcome to my brain.

Today is the return date for my knitting group that I started. I started it because I wanted to have a group of people in my circle who like to do the same things I do. A group who won't look at me funny because I've always got knitting in my purse... that reminds me, I need to start a new project since I finished Pokey's socks... anywho... I wanted to find a few kindred spirits in this world who loved to play with yarn.

And...

I want to stay home. I don't like being surrounded by people I don't know and forced to be "on stage". My social anxiety plays a number on me inside, all the while I'm smiling and working on not passing out from fear or crying. My heart is racing. My mind is running a mile a minute and foggy all at the same time. Eye contact, oh for the love of Mickey please don't make me have to make eye contact with these folks. I don't know them!

But...

If I go, since I am the one who created the group after all, I will soon be surrounded by friends. People that I will look forward to seeing and hearing about their lives. It's down to once a month and it's on a Friday in the early evening. It couldn't be at a better time. Honestly, it won't be as bad I fear and they are probably just as nervous about it all as I am.

And yet...

I want to bail. I can stand knitting alone. I have all my friends on Ravelry to keep me company. I can talk to them while I knit. I've done it. We have even had hangouts and Skype knit nights. It was comfortable and fun.

So why... why do I put myself through this? I know I promised to do one thing a month that scared the stuffing out of me and brought me out of my comfort zone. This would qualify every time. I don't know why I inflict such things on myself. Probably because I know my social anxiety is illogical but I also know that logic doesn't play a part it at all. It's illogical to set up a group that you're afraid to go to but I did it anyway.

I guess the only reason is because I am afraid... I'm afraid of being a person who can't leave their house because "people". I'm afraid of being lonely and not having any friends who share my interests. I'm afraid of allowing the comfort of not going somewhere become a fear of going anywhere... and so, I'm afraid I'm going to head out the door to meet the group.

Wish me luck!

Because every post should have something yarny and delicious... My Fading Pines Shawl test knit and coloring book.

12 February 2017

Early spring cleaning

I know, it's not even close to being Spring but I live in Florida so it's nothing like Winter around here. The highs are still in the mid-80s and it's disgustingly humid. I am hating every minute of it, honestly, and to add to it - our air conditioner broke today so I'm dying of heat with a bad back and just generally miserable. The repair man is supposed to be here tomorrow morning so we'll see how it goes.

In the interim, my sweet husband finished my vision for the front walk area. When we moved in, there were a few bushes but we have since learned that the wasps loved them and it made getting to the house rather adventurous for some of us. Here's what it looked like before...

You can see the little jungle behind her Hobbit. This was during the first week of school so five months ago.
Figures the only image I could find of it would be the one where the entire lawn looked awful. Hobbit will kill me for posting this one but it's all I've got to work with at the moment. You get the idea though, it was just a hot mess. Well, here is what it looks like now...

Look how sleek and clean it looks now!
Here is the full view of the finished product. I think it looks wonderful and he did just as I wanted.

I have no clue what kind of plants they are but I loved how bright and happy they were. They also looked hearty.

I have a brown thumb so I hope they survive being in my life but they look tough. The color is so bright, I love it.
So now that our front walk was done, I had to spruce up the front deck too. That meant an actual Valentine's Day wreath and some new cushions for the bistro set out front...

$6 at Jo-Ann Fabrics. You really just can't beat that - and it's sparkly so that's great too.

I had to kick two hineys out of them to get the shot. They are super comfy and really pretty.
The only thing I have left on my wish list is a way to create some shade up here so I can actually get more use out of the space. It's a nice area and we have great breezes so it would be good to use it more but currently, it sits in direct sunlight which is horrible when you live on the surface of the sun like we do.

I'm sure I'll find a nice umbrella and stand soon enough. In the mean time, I will continue to enjoy it during the early morning and evening hours. Our little house is coming along nicely.

03 February 2017

It's dusty in here...

My gracious, it's amazing how quickly the dust piles up when you step away from a place for a bit. Let's shake some of the cobwebs off and tidy up, I believe it's time to get back to it.

How have you been? Good? I hope so. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I have kept myself busy. I admit that my creative mojo for the writing side of myself just went on vacation. I honestly felt like I didn't have anything to say. It was an odd feeling, really. One minute I am writing and the next, nothing. It wasn't a "block", I just went through a spell where I thought most of what I thought was not worthy of the act of me putting pen to paper to share.

Whelp, today I am home sick... and I just felt like I had something to say. Not that I was home sick, that's not really newsworthy, but I had things that I wanted to share. I didn't make any promises to try last year, at least not any that I care to go looking for to see if I accomplished any of them and then write the mundane post stating I either did/didn't/fib and claim I did complete. This year, my only promise is to do one thing a month that scares me. Allow me to explain.

If you've been around for a while, you know that I have social anxiety/panic attacks. You also know that they annoy the snot right out of me. I know they are illogical but they are something that I cannot control. As John Nash stated, the brain is a muscle and it just needs proper training - I think that is how it goes anyway. So anyway, my goal this year - my promise to try - is about doing one thing a month that scares me... and in January, I did and today, I'm doing it again by writing this post. Two months completed, like a boss.

What did I do last month? I drove almost three hours to attend a workshop that I paid for to be taught colorwork techniques from Franklin Habit! When I saw that he was going to be at A Good Yarn Sarasota, I told my husband about it who said without blinking "Sign up and go. Ask your mother if she'd like to go and we'll get her a ticket to it too". Did you see what he did there? He was doing what he does best, looking out for me. You see, if I have at least one person with me then I can usually get through things that scare me. Without them knowing, they hold me accountable for showing up... for completely showing up... because I don't want to let them down. Long story short, my mama didn't want to go because it was too far for her and she's awesome at colorwork so it wouldn't have been of value to her. I bought my ticket anyway and had a month to prepare myself.

I made one of Franklin's patterns to wear when I met him. A quiet nod to a fangirl moment. The man is so very talented and I have been a follower of his career since way back in the days of his blog, "The Panopticon", so we're talking about 12 years or so. I had already learned so much from him so to be able to sit in a room and be taught by him was a dream come true. So I decided to knit up the Centura Tam and wear it. Living in Florida, you just never know what the weather is going to do in the winter but a tam is always fashionable and never too stifling.

While I was working on the tam, I was daydreaming about what the session was going to be like. I had never taken a workshop for anything before so it was uncharted territory. I knew we would be knitting in the workshop because we had to bring two contrasting skeins of yarn, size appropriate needles, tapestry needle, and pen/paper for notes. I finished my tam and had it blocked and ready to go a week before the big day. That was poor judgement on my part because now I had a week to worry. I packed my bag for the event and put it by the door with my tam... and I looked at it for 6 days and nights, in fear of the unknown.

The drive down wasn't bad. Class started at 10 am so I left the house at 6:45 am because it was a rainy morning. I made it an hour down the road and I pulled into a McDonald's, contemplating turning around. Instead, I told myself, "Take 5 minutes. Get some breakfast. You have plenty of time." So I did just that. When I was done, I got back in the car and continued down the road. I arrived almost an hour early because it was 1) early on a Sunday and 2) the weather kept most folks tucked inside where it was warm and dry. So I sat in my car for a few minutes and that old familiar feeling crept up. I started my car to head home because I couldn't go in there. I felt like I was going to die and tears were welling up in my eyes. I took a deep breath and told myself, "Get some coffee. Take  5 minutes at a Starbucks and get yourself a treat. If you still feel like going home, okay". So I did. When my order was up, I got back in my car and drove back to the yarn shop.

There I sat. I paid for this class. I wanted to go, I really did. I was just so scared. I ran through my checklist countdown, it helped a little. Then I made a deal with myself. If I went inside, I could leave after 5 minutes if I really wanted to. That seemed fair to me. I grabbed my stuff and toddled inside. I found a seat - front row, end closest to the door. I sat down and made note of the time. I didn't unpack anything, I just sat there... breathing and willing myself not to cry. A woman with the kindest face on the planet asked to sit next to me. I smiled. I couldn't speak for fear of crying so I smiled and nodded while I busied myself in my bag so I didn't have to look at her. My time was up. I made it 5 minutes and I didn't die.

I was getting up to go because it was just honestly too much for me that morning when in walks Franklin. The person I drove all this way to see and learn from. The person who I had been telling my friends that I would die to be able to spend just an hour sitting at his feet and learning how he makes such gorgeous things. He was here. Now. In the room. I was mid sit/stand and he just smiled at me, saying "Good morning". I'm sure I looked a fool. Right then, I told myself, "Okay, 5 more minutes and if you still feel like your heart is going to explode then you can leave".

I must tell you, I am very sneaky with myself because there was no way I was going to get up in the middle of one of the most creative soul's lessons and just rudely leave. I would be mortified and I would never forgive myself. I cut myself a lot of slack but not this time. So I got my stuff out and tended to getting myself organized for class with the renegotiated option of leaving during the first break - which ultimately turned out to be lunch at 1 pm. Okay. The halfway point in the day. Umm, yeah. I can do that. I will be knitting after all so it's not like I have to be a social butterfly and everyone is there to see him, not me. I can bet that no one will even remember that I was there - except for the sweet faced woman who sat next to me and kept talking to me which was incredibly difficult for me because I just am not good at small talk. I'm sure she thought I was an odd duck but she was kind enough to not make note of it directly to me.

The first lesson was underway and we all made great progress. Intarsia. Interesting technique - tons of ends to weave in! I like the result though. After that, we moved on to speed swatching colorwork in the round. This was fun and challenging. It was at this point that he offered us up a quick five minute break to stretch or do whatever... and he spoke to me. Now, if I was going to leave, this would be my prime time to do it because it was busy with people mulling about and no one would know... except Franklin, who was standing in front of me. Nervous and out of sorts, I blurted out, "I made your hat pattern" and whipped the tam off my head, shoving it in his face. He politely admired it and stated how he had never seen anyone make it before, complimented my stitchwork, and even honored me with this...

Franklin Habit and my Centura Tam in MadelineTosh DK, Night Hawk
I was horribly nervous so pardon the blurry photo. My hands were shaking but he was so kind. He even told me to be sure and tag him on my Instagram post - which I did and he liked it. By the time that was all done, we were back to work. I didn't have a chance to leave. I renegotiated back to my original lunch escape and got back to work on making sure my "smiles" were loose enough to allow my swatch to sit flat.

Lunchtime came and we had an hour. By now I was feeling a bit more comfortable, though eating in front of others always unhinges me. It has my entire life. What do you do with an anxious kid, stick her in a huge noisy room full of other kids who spend their days picking on her and force her to eat. Yeah, it was one of my worst childhood nightmares come to life in my adult years. To distract myself, I asked permission to shop in the store since it was closed. Sue, the owner, said that since we were there for the class that we could definitely shop in the store. I wandered around a bit because it wasn't my beloved Four Purls in Winter Haven so I didn't know how things were laid out. Then I remembered that Sharon had dyed exclusive colorways for them back when she owned Three Irish Girls so I went looking for them. I decided on two skeins of Octopus's Garden - even though it is grammatically incorrect and that drives me buggy.

Three Irish Girls - Octupus' Garden - Adorn Luxe Sock, 430 yards per skein
Yeah, I know I corrected it in the image caption because, I told you, it was grammatically incorrect and driving me buggy. I also picked up Franklin's coloring book "I Dream of Yarn", which he later autographed for me. I used it yesterday during long hold sessions and a conference call. It is fabulous!

After lunch, we moved on to finishing up our stranded colorwork and headed into garter stitch stranded, which is quite interesting. I have still not yet decided if I like it but I saw the possibilities of what it would be good for and they looked amazing on his sample. Before I knew it, the day was done. I made it! Here are the results of my day...

Clockwise from top right: Intarsia cabin, Stranded speed swatch pattern, and Garter Stitch Stranded pattern.
After the day was done, I went up to ask him if he would sign my book and he said “Of course, Amy - right?” We didn’t have name tags or do any introductions in the class at all - and even if we did, this was 7 hours later. He knew me from interactions on Instagram and Facebook. He had said that he always remember people by their names on Facebook and so some women he calls by their full names because they have it on there… then we laughed about my initials. He said that it was awesome to have them like that. When I was all packed up and ready to go, he was surrounded by a group of women and I simply smiled and waved, mouthing thank you to him, and he said “Goodbye, Amy. It was so nice to see you”.

Of course, once I got in my car and was parked back in the Starbucks parking lot down the road, I had a little cry because it was just too much anxiety for the day. The sweet faced lady next to me just kept talking to me and I tried to do small talk but, like I said, I’m not good at it… but I did it, I think. I hope. When I got home, I wrote Franklin a thank you note and then kissed my husband and my daughter and went straight to bed after a quick bite. I was completely spent!

The next morning, I posted my little swatches of courage on my bulletin board above my desk. There are there to remind myself that you never know what you are capable of doing if you just hang on for the next 5 minutes.

09 October 2016

Here, Mojo... Where are ya, girl?

Have you ever lost your mojo? Be it at work, at home, or in your creative life? Yeah, me too. Actually, I'm currently sans mojo in several areas. I think it is because I am just bone weary and am in desperate need of a break. I won't be getting one any time soon so I have been looking for ways to recapture it. I thought I would share with you what I have been up to in order to find my elusive mojo.
  1. Daydream - Yep, you read that right. Sometimes, when I have lost the juice that gets me going, I daydream about what I would rather be doing and then finish up so I can go do what I've daydreamed about. It may sound silly but it works some days. If I'm at work and I'd rather be baking a lemon loaf, I tell myself that if I can get "x amount" done in "x amount" of time, I can go do what I would rather do.
  2. List It All - I love lists. They help me get things done. If I write a list, I get the joy and complete satisfaction of crossing said thing off of said list. Think I'm crazy? Try it. You will be surprised how excited you feel to look at your list that consists of things such as "make bed", "wash/fold/put away colors", and "cook supper" is completely scratched through.
  3. Plan for Some Day - I do this a lot. I plan for that vacation that I can't take just yet. I order materials online, watch videos, and price out different scenarios. Sometimes, it just feels good to know that your dream vacation can be created even if you can't take it just it. Plus, it gives you a good idea about how much money you'll need which may spur you on in the work front.
  4. Pull a Nike and Just Do It - Oh yeah, I have just grinded through things - chores, crafting, work - just to get it done and over with in hopes that the feeling of accomplishment will miraculously make me feel productive and regain my mojo. It rarely does but when it does, it generally spurs me on to bigger and better things.
So yeah, that is my little list of things that I do to find my mojo. I have tried a few of them this past week to get my sweet mojo back... they haven't worked but I did try. I plan on trying again on Monday because nothing says motivation like the definition of insanity per Albert Einstein.

What all do you do when you're mojo has gone on vacation?

25 September 2016

Swap Etiquette

It's my own fault. I assumed people would put as much pride, thought, and consideration into the box coming to me as I put into the box going to my partner. I should have known better and yet, I continue to hold out hope that one day, I too will receive an awesome tailor made box.

So, I thought that perhaps the best way to do this would be to share my latest experience. This is not meant as anything mean spirited, and those who actually know me will understand this. It is simply informational.

To be a good swapper, you can start by actually reading the questionnaire filled out by the person you have been paired up with. I will use my own answers to help illustrate this aspect so as to not highlight others without permission to use their responses.

1. What kind of yarns/fibers do you prefer? If the person answers that they like items that are soft and squishy, accompanied by examples such as Three Irish Girls, Malabrigo, and Knit Picks then you should take heed. Sending scratchy, course yarn is not what the person said they enjoyed.

2. What are you favorite colors and combinations at the moment? Should the person answer that they love all colors but are really enjoying blues and greys at the moment, try not to send items in a rough acrylic yarn the color palette of animal droppings deep in the forest or poorly circulated appendages.

3. What is your favorite treat to eat? When the person lists two specific flavors - either combined or separate - then get those two flavors. This is cut and dry, whether you know me or not - peppermint and chocolate. It's in my name for heaven's sake. Any combination or separate will work. Hard sour candy in bitter biting flavors is not the same thing... at all.

4. What is your favorite hot beverage? Should the person answer that they love peppermint hot chocolate or decaf black teas, then that is what you should strive to find. French Vanilla is the antithesis of what was stated and herbal teas with flavors of maple (seriously, not kidding) apple cider or spiced cinnamon are nowhere near the mark.

5. Do you have any allergies? This is the most important one. Those of us with asthma and allergies clearly state that we have them. We do not try to be coy because we do not want to be sick. Yes, yes there are allergies. Severe allergies coupled with asthma. It is clearly explained that heavy scents can not be tolerated, as they will make me sick.. and yet, the items arrived with a stench so strong I was physically ill. Essential Oils, moth balls, and cedar are so pungent that the two skeins of scratchy yarn and the bag sent are currently living in the laundry room to "air out". It is doubtful that unskeining and soaking will help at all as the odor is still lingering in my living room even more than 12 hours after the fact.

The box you are creating is not for you. It is for the person who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. You could hate everything that you are putting into the box but if you know that it fits the bill to the person who is receiving it, that is the only thing that matters.

If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this - a swap is not for you, it is for the person you receive. It is a moment in time where you do something selfless for the pure and simple reason that it will make another person happy. If you run a swap, don't defend the obvious bad swapper. Make it right. Talk to the bad swapper and let them know how they failed so they can be a better swapper in the future. Don't simply dismiss it and tell the person who received the obviously bad box that you are sorry it wasn't want the person had hoped for... all a swap participant should hope for is a box that was carefully created to make the recipient feel loved.

If you can look at the questionnaire and check off a few things that match what was stated by the person who is going to receive the box, then you have done a good job. If you can't, then your heart was not in the right place. As for the box of items I received...

The books are being donated to the library to bring joy to those who enjoy those kinds of books. The yarn is being donated to the Salvation Army stores, as is the messenger bag simply because I can not get the odor out of them. Hopefully, someone else will be able to gain some joy from them as well. The candy was given to my husband to try. The cocoa and teas were thrown out because no one thought they sounded good. The mug is in the cupboard and the deck of torn up cards was discarded. The cowl is being worn by Hobbit though I am going to throw it in the wash momentarily, in hopes of getting the smell out.

This was a disappointing week - both on a professional and personal front - and I was honestly looking forward to receiving a little box with a few treasures to brighten my day. Unfortunately, I did not receive that at all... I have never felt more unimportant or nonexistent. It is a sad but apparently fitting end to the week.

Here's to a better week ahead...

03 September 2016

Interesting week

My goodness, this has been one interesting week. While we did not get a lot of challenges from Hurricane Hermine, our old house sure did! That area was evacuated and was flooded so badly. I am so thankful that we moved further inland. We had some seriously soaking rains, gnarly thunderstorms, and at times a severely blustery day but overall, we came out on the other side with very little to complain about... and I'm extremely happy about it.

This afternoon we are going to drive over to the Magic Kingdom and say our goodbyes to the Main Street Electrical Parade. I am going to miss this event but I am so happy that my kids got to make the same fabulous memories that I have with it. Hopefully, others will think it will be continued rainy and we can have a fairly empty park.

Since it is also the weekend, I'm going to finish this post with excessive photographs.. hehehe...

This is our newest family member. His name is Matthew Liam and Hobbit is raising him for FFA and to show at the fair.

We went to the breeder's last night. He is a Netherland Dwarf with a champion sire for a daddy. It was love at first snuggle.

I came home from knit group to find them on the sofa together. He likes to sit in an apron pocket of all things.

I am almost done with my icord hind off. My only complaint is that it rolls. I don't think blocking is going to help but I will try.
I am up to the five rows of blue section in my blanket. I'm still unsure about the variegated but others have liked it so it stayed.

And KP made us ice cream and coffee floats this morning during knit group. It was a most magical pairing of flavors!

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