31 December 2011

A look back at 2011

12 months and 23 Ravelry projects later... we say goodbye to 2011.  Happy New Year everyone!

Ready... steady...

Even the sheep mock my indecisiveness
It's almost time to go on our "Rise to the Challenge" contest - can you believe it?  We just have to make it through today and tomorrow and then we're off and running!  I've still not made up my mind on exactly what I am making - honestly starting to think the decision will have to be made by flipping a quarter at this point.

I do know that I joined a great new group over on Ravelry.  It is run by the most amazing mother-daughter duo I have ever met.  You may have wondered over to their blog, and if you haven't I strongly suggest that you do because you're definitely missing out on a lot.  Together, Julie and Carli make up the fabulousness that is "Simply Notable".  If you hurry on over, you can join in their "Make a New Crafty Friend Swap"... who knows, we just might get each other!

So, needles at the ready everyone - we're in the final stages before we can all "Rise to the Challenge" in 2012.  Keep your eye on the prize, your nose to the grindstone and that other hokey motivational phrase that gets tossed around in great campy 80s movies... and now for a message from the mommy-side of me:

If you are going out tonight, please be careful.  There will be many people out and of those, many of whom should probably not be behind the wheel of a vehicle.  Be kind to those around you.  Be careful.  Be safe.  I rather enjoy your company and I would like for you to be around for a very long time.  I'll see you tomorrow, yes?

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

30 December 2011

Weekend Wonderment ~ 12/30 - 1/1

A nice relaxing holiday weekend, don't you think?
  1. Pokey and I just watched the last Harry Potter movie last night and now I just feel the need to reread the series... again.
  2. I am going to work on this sleeve if it kills me.  So what if I was told to rest my neck and shoulder... I knit with my hands and fingers, not my neck and shoulder.  Yes, I'm sticking with that train of thought, thank you.
  3. I am working to clean up UFOs so naturally, this pattern must be completed... then written up, pdf'd and uploaded for all to enjoy... oh and mailed to Peanut so she doesn't freeze at school.
  4. All the while during this fabulous knitting weekend, I will be indulging in selfish theatrical eye and ear candy.  Care to join me?
  5. Hobbit chose one skein of this yarn when we were at the store the other week... no clue what I'm going to do with  it.  It's chunky weight and 109 yards.  I was thinking a hat but it also screams "bunny slippers" to me - what do you think?
That's my exciting New Year's Eve weekend - what do you have planned?

29 December 2011

Shameless Nerd Wars promotion below...

I hear the Team Captain is a real hoot!
Hi all!  How would you like to join one of the newest Nerd Wars groups, Club 33.  As a retired cast member, I think there is honestly nothing cooler than to have a team completely dedicated to Disney and all it entails... and here we are!

We have created a new Ravelry group for people who are interested in joining.  Even if you aren't sure about the whole Nerd Wars tournament (although it is a LOT of fun!), this is a group for those who love all things Disney.

So please, join the group to take a look around, feel free to email me if you have any questions and remember to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times... driver, you're clear to go.  ***Beep beep***

*Nerd Wars Tournament 4 sign ups begin on January 15 so come on over and get set - it's going to be a grand adventure.*

27 December 2011

Tuesday (Motivational) Tunes ~ Confidence

I thought that since I completely had a lapse in brain power yesterday and missed our normal "Motivational Monday" moment that I would combine our "Tuesday Tunes" segment with it and look what I found - the most absolute perfect song for today.

I love this song for more than the fact that it's Elvis and a fabulously fun movie ("Clambake" for all who are interested).  Where it falls in the storyline of the film is perfect and it falls perfectly for today too.  I am going to start a little side project because I have to go back to the doctor tomorrow about my shoulder, which I'm very sad to report is no better than it was when I went... and in some ways, it's a bit worse.  I am a worrier by nature (thanks, Mama) and so it's been needling the back of my mind but I keep plugging along with the cockeyed optimistic approach that I will wake up one morning and "poof", it will be better and life will return to normal.  So far, no "poof".

Anywho, I am going to attempt a new project that I can carry along with me to the doctor's office and not worry too much about but still have something fun when I'm done.  I got some funky sock yarn last summer on my pilgrimage to A Good Yarn Sarasota that I had planned to make some socks for Pokey but never got around to doing it for whatever reason.  Well, now I think is a good time to start them, don't you?  I've got plenty of patterns in my Ravelry favorites and queue to choose from so I'll just gather up my confidence and get to it... the sock and the doctor appointment.

Look out, Doc... I'm ready.

26 December 2011

"Rise to the Challenge" challenge

Got the yarn...
need the pattern
Are y'all ready for the "Rise to the Challenge" challenge that is being hosted on this here blog?  I sure hope so!  I am still torn as to which pattern I am going to do and I have just a week to sort it all out.  I know the yarn that I'm using and I am confident that I have enough for whatever project I decided on since I bought a bag of each.

The concept is truly simple ~ create something with a new technique and then give us some details or a story documenting the experience and how it is a challenge for you.  Entering is equally as simple; basically all you have to do is post the above information with your photo of your project in our Ravelry group, on the Facebook page or email it to me or link it up here in the comment section.

All of the fine print and  necessary bits and bobs are found here so please click through and take a look.  Everyone is a winner with this challenge since we'll have gained new experiences and abilities but there is also a prize for one lucky participant - Jordana Paige's new must have accessory for every fiber artist... the Crafter's Tool Butler!  Isn't it amazing!  I wish I could win one... if only someone would hold a contest... oh wait, I'm that someone!!

What do ya say... care to have some fun in 2012?

Sticking my toe in

Over the holiday weekend, I did a little test.  It wasn't anything super huge but it was something that has been needling my mind for some time.  I did research on this for several months and kept tally of trends and such so nothing was done 'willy nilly' at all.  All of this has been going on in the background since June and I had hoped to gather enough conclusive data to reach a decision by December and run with it by this past weekend, which I did.

You can find them all by clicking here.

I relaunched several of my patterns, 7 and a half to be exact*, as purchasable patterns on Ravelry.  I took older patterns and I must say that so far, things are going as I had forecast and I am very pleased.  I didn't want to do anything radical and throw the knitting world into a fit, the likes of which only my good Doctor would be able to remedy.  The cost of the patterns is miniscule at best but I figured it would help to fund the creative process - yarn gets expensive, you know.  So no, I'm not rocking the boat at all but simply stepping into the waters... sticking my baby toe in really... and that barely makes a ripple.

Making this move was yet another challenge that I set up for me lately.  Speaking of challenges - are you ready to Rise to the Challenge in just 7 days?  Have you got your pattern and supplies all set up and waiting for you?  If you need any suggestions, I know some people who are great at helping out.  This is going to be fabulous... I can't wait!!

*The half is the ears for the bunny slippers... those are free but the slipper pattern is off a paid pattern.

24 December 2011

The most perfect Christmas Eve... all things considered

Pokey has to work today so I made a special "pizza" for Hobbit and me for tonight's Doctor Who marathon...

It smelled fabulous as it baked in the oven - all peanut buttery and yummy...

I thought it was perfect like this but I was apparently wrong...

It is perfect like this - and requires some vanilla ice cream to cut the sweetness.

My mailman, dressed as Santa, brought me a late birthday present...

I tried to leave it all sealed up and safe...

but it was calling my name and I had to open it up and pet it.

My "Rise to the Challenge" project yarn...

It's beautiful, isn't it.  Soft, squishy and perfect - 2460 yards of perfection (1230 yds of each color)
... and to make it even better, Pokey just called on his supper break.  He is allowed to leave at 6 p.m. so he'll be home by 7 p.m. to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Hobbit before she goes to bed tonight - just like he does every year.

Now that was a Christmas wish come true - so God bless us, every one.

23 December 2011

Defined by me

I have been asked on more than one occasion as to why I say "Happy Christmas" instead of "Merry Christmas".  The answer, I'm sorry to say, is relatively simple in nature.  Merry is defined as cheerful and lively while happy is defined as showing pleasure and contentment... and what could be more fulfilling than to be utterly content?

Happy Christmas everyone.  I'll see you Monday.

T minus 10

We've got 10 days until we Rise to the Challenge on 1/2/12.  Do you have your pattern picked out?  What color palette have you decided on?  Are you itching to go just like I am?  I honestly can not wait to get started - it is going to be so exciting seeing everyone grow and experience new things.  Plus, that Crafter's Tool Butler from Jordana Paige is a sweet prize to be sure.

I am still on the fence as to what I am going to do for my project.  I know it will involve colorworking but I am not completely sure how.  Initially, I thought I would make this cute little project ~

© Karen Neal ~ Snowflake Headband
It has the colorworking, the snowflake and it's relatively small... perfect for a first time project, right?  Yeah, I thought so too but I have since begun to think that I might need more of a challenge so I've been toying with the idea of making this instead ~

©Todd Gocken ~ Norweigan Snowflake Scarf
I have these two gorgeous shades of green coming from Knit Picks - Swish DK in Parrot and Forest Heather.  I think they would look really great as this scarf too... and it's done in the round, not flat, so even though it's a stranded scarf, it will be beautiful on both sides.  The two yarns were a part of the site's "bag sale" so I'm going to have 1230 yds of each color.  I even thought that I could do a sweater but all the designs that I love belong to a pattern designer that I find difficult to understand. I know I need to keep my project on the smaller end so that I can complete it by 2/1/12 and since I will have a publisher deadline for at least one test knit in January, I really can't commit to the sweater idea, as much as I would love to... and my vicious circle simply repeats. 

What do you think - keep it simple and do the headband or go for the scarf?

22 December 2011

Morse Code Cowl

A snuggly hug around your neck - always the perfect gift.
I wanted to give y'all a little thank you for such a fabulous year.  Truth be told, we southern girls love to give everyone who touches our heart a big ol' hug.  I mean what better way to show love than to give some love, right.  So that is what I am thinking of when it comes to this cowl - a hug from me to you... some assembly required.

You can get the pattern on it's Ravelry page.

Merry Christmas everyone - warmest wishes from me to you and yours.

Okay, I'll give it a try

I had to think, think, think...
For a while now, many of you have written to me stating that you would like to give back for the patterns that I put up.  I appreciated the sentiment then and I still do now - except now I have finally given in to the requests.

Over there on the right side bar you should now see a cute little "Donate" button under the header of "A Way to Give Thanks".  All patterns on here are still free.  All recipes on here are still free.  That button is there if you feel moved to donate for the items.

Over the course of this journey, I have had a great many people write me and state how they would like to give me something for all that I have given them.  I have always declined and recently I learned that I unintentionally offended someone by my unwillingness to accept their offer.  Y'all know that I love and appreciate every one of you and if you feel moved to donate for supplies so that more new patterns and recipes can be created, then I am one overly blessed girl.  No offense was ever meant by my refusal so please accept my deepest apologies if anyone else was quietly hurt... I'm so sorry.

Now I think this donation button is a great compromise.  You can "pay" for patterns if you wish as a way to say thank you and I can still give patterns freely.  It's a win-win... for everyone.

Almost there

In this pretty tote...

is a Christmas surprise...

for y'all!  Should be ready just in time too - gimpy wing and all.
Working on a thank you for all of y'all - the well wishes, healing thoughts and prayers, words of encouragement and simple notes of giggles to get me through this annoying injury have meant so much to me.  I have been designing this all week and I am almost ready to give it to you.  I made sure that even our newest members into the knitting community can take advantage of this little treasure.

It will be my Christmas gift to you - as you are all gifts to me.  Consider it a hug you can knit...

21 December 2011

Do you see what I see?

Over there... see it?

Let me scoot a bit closer.. there... see it now?

Yeah, you see it too?  Sweet... can you read who it's to?

What about now?  Can you make it out?

Yeah baby... that super huge gift in the corner is for me!!

Just another random Wednesday

Pokey is off.  Hobbit is in her pjs at school watching "The Polar Express" because it's their last day.  I'm still gimpy and slightly grumpy... therefore, my thoughts are all over the place.  Take a peek inside my noggin and see for yourself ~

My prize from Irish Girlie Knits arrived... now if only my swift would get here because I have these two hanks...

the two hanks that finally showed up from when I won this giveaway almost 2 months ago...

and this hank of gorgeous Malabrigo from Knitcircus' Sweet 16 giveaway to wind up and use.
Hobbit and I are starting a new tradition this year - and it's going to be cool... only 3 more days!
I miss my silly Peanut... Christmas isn't... well.. Christmas without her...
I'm thinking of making one of these for me and Hobbit to have during our Doctor Who marathon  & special.

Whoopsy on 365 Project
I should really do some laundry at some point today... I just don't want to... might blame shoulder on this one...
My sweater misses me... I miss my sweater...
I need more coffee... I should get dressed and face the day which means nothing more than getting out of this chair and going to sit in another one.  Maybe I'll watch "Whitechapel" on BBC America On Demand.  I tried to watch it last night but I fell asleep - as much as I believed it in college, you can't learn through osmosis.  Maybe I'll sneak in a bit of knitting - I've got another original design cowl on my needles that I'm working up.  It's almost done and I really like it... might send it on to be picked up by someone important in the knitting world who has an open call to designers out.  It's nothing fancy but it's really cute.. at least to me.  What's the worst that could happen... they say no?  It's okay, I'll still have a beautiful original design no matter what happens.

I still need more coffee...

20 December 2011

Ten on Tuesday ~ The List

Carole asked that we write out the ten things that we still have left to do before Christmas.  I can totally participate in this one because goodness knows, I have a lot left to do and I love to make to lists.  Let's have at it, shall we?
  1. Wrap Hobbit's presents.  I managed to wrap the presents for everyone else but for some reason, I have not done Hobbit's yet.  It's odd but true.  I'll do it tomorrow probably because that is her last day of school and goodness knows, she can't be trusted alone while I hole up and get it done.
  2. Thaw the turkey and take stock for Christmas supper.  I think I have everything but I never know until it's time to start.
  3. Bake more cookies.  We've only had one batch of Christmas cookies this year and they lasted a good while.  We are currently working on the fudge and Peppermint Bark I made last week.
  4. I'm toying with making some cupcakes too.  I didn't have a birthday cake this year because we were at Walt Disney World so I have a hole in me that can only be filled with cake.  I tried filling it with ice cream, fudge, peppermint candies, cookies and coffee - apparently, cake is the only true fix.
  5. Work on Pokey's sweater.  Y'all know I have a torn shoulder muscle and should honestly not be knitting for a few weeks but I have to say - it's going to hurt anyway so I might as well be doing something I enjoy to get my mind off the pain, right?  Just sitting around with a heating pad on my back is boring... I think I'll write up a schedule so I can get it done AND rest my shoulder.
  6. Arts and crafts with Hobbit.  She found our construction paper that I bought back around Halloween.  We can now make paper chains and snowflakes to decorate our front window.  I used to love doing that as a kid - I even found a great wreath pattern last year from JoAnn Fabric.
  7. Christmas Eve 2 Days Early.  That's what we're calling it this year.  We have a tradition where we all get in our pjs and go out on Christmas Eve to look at the lights around town.  Then we come home and have cocoa, watch a Christmas movie and go to bed.  This year, Pokey has to work on Christmas Eve so we're doing it on Thursday when he's off instead.  It will still be fun and as an added bonus, we'll be drinking Starbucks on the journey!
  8. Doctor Who marathon.  Oh yeah, it's all set for Hobbit.  Since we're doing our Christmas Eve tradition a few days early, on Christmas Eve night she and I will be snuggled in with Cheddar popcorn, some soda and a bit of the good Doctor to keep us entertained.
  9. Clean out Hobbit's closet.  We recently set in place a 20-25 toy rule... and that if a new toy comes into the house, an older toy must find a new home.  I'm ashamed to say that Hobbit has more than she needs and is not very good at giving things away.  Plus, since we've moved her downstairs, the upstairs room still has a truck load of toys in it.  It's simply time to pare down and simplify.  I truly believe that having less will make her (and us) happier.  It will be easier to keep picked up, find what she is looking for and play with what she has... this will be a great thing once we get through the act of doing it.
  10. Enjoy my family.  I've been in a funk for a few months - nothing commercial worthy or that requires some type of intervention, just not feeling like I usually do when this time of year roles around.  I know the reason is because Peanut is not here... my family isn't complete this year.  Hobbit has no clue I feel this way and I make sure that we still 'whoop it up' around her but in all honesty, I'm just not feeling the holiday cheer this year - at all.  Hopefully, when Peanut comes home this summer, we will be able to get her license and a reliable used vehicle so that she isn't at the mercy of others while she's away at school.  If she had a car, she'd be home sometime today...
So there is my list of last minute things that I need to get working on.  I bet it's not much different than anyone else around this time of year - but I don't normally have anything left over by now.  At least I'm ahead of the game when it comes to Pokey - he still has shopping to do on Wednesday and Thursday!

I'll leave you with this Christmas song and I wish every one of you a joyous Christmas with those you love.

19 December 2011

Motivational Mondays ~ 12/19

Herringbone Stitch
Last night I was able to finish my last challenge project for the third and final round of Nerd Wars Tournament 3.  It was for the Scientific prompt which dealt with getting out of our comfort zone and learning a new technique... just like what we're all going to do in January with our contest.

This project was initially going to be the Modern Reticule bag that had the most fabulous destination of being a surprise present hanging from the tree on Christmas morning for Hobbit to find... and that idea may still come to fruition if I am able to figure out this ding dang Herringbone Stitch.  They wanted me out of my comfort zone - I was so far out it wasn't even funny.  I had to frog and restart three times and the final result was not as wonderful as I had hoped - partly due to my miscalculation regarding yarn weight substitution for the bag and partly due to my fumbling through this new stitch.  I kept forgetting what side I was on after I had set my work down for a bit which resulted in a few wrong turns and the realization that I will have to do the bottom section of that bag all in one sitting so I don't have the same issue again - and it's a complicated stitch for me so I would require a full day of uninterrupted knitting.. or at least that is what I'm thinking right now.  A year from now and the thought would be completely different - I might be able to do that stitch, talk to people and watch a movie all at the same time without losing my spot, patience or mind.

Bon Appetit!
So a bag was not this particular project's destiny... although I was able to still use it for the challenge and tie it back to my current team for full credit on the challenge.  I'm sure you're curious what it could have possibly been since it wasn't the beautiful bag... a French Bread Roll, of course!  Hobbit loves it and has claimed it for her toys.  It alternates between food and pillow, naturally.

Just because things don't turn out as originally planned, doesn't mean the end result isn't just as good.

18 December 2011

Sunday Snaps ~ You take the good, the take the bad

You take them both and then you have the facts of life... I'll wait while you sing along...

That will get you bouncing in your seat, won't it... love it!  Okay so today's version of "Sunday Snaps" is going to be with this mindset since the song has been stuck in my head all morning.  Ready?  Here are the "good"s of the week ~

I made milk chocolate fudge and peppermint bark earlier in the week and it's still around today!

This is the face I captured when Hobbit answered that she was in fact good this year - neither true nor false and he knows

I finished the teacher gift knitting last night.  All that is left is finding the cup things I saw last week.

I really like how my "cheap" yarn version came out - even with the medication induced 'boo-boo' I just found.
Those were the parts of my week that made me smile... these were the parts that didn't ~

I messed up Pokey's sweater sleeve and I had to frog it all - it was at 10" and I'm only back to 6" right now.

Dishes in general really but holiday baking dishes seem somehow messier.

I really don't like how the top one came out but I don't have time to make her a different version.

For expensive yarn, I honestly don't care for it... or perhaps I just haven't found the proper project for it yet.
Those were the "bad" moments of the week.  Add to that the fact that I found out the reason my shoulder has been killing me is because I have somehow torn a muscle AND apparently I have arthritis in it.  Awesome, no?  Oh well - copious amounts of anti-steroid anti-inflammatory medication for a month and supposedly I will be feeling right as rain.  Fingers crossed.

I'm going to see if the two coffee cozies will work for one of my Nerd Wars projects where I had to finish two WiPs.  I'm thinking that they will but I'm going to double check first.  If they don't, I've got another two hour project that I can find, I'm sure.

I need to work on Pokey's sweater but I will admit to having a defeated feeling already.  Between the pain from knitting right now and the amount that needs to be done, I just don't think I will make it.  Knowing me, as I do, I will more than likely be parked down in my chair plugging away just to prove myself wrong - sad but true.  Either way, Pokey knows it is a labor of love right now and he will be over the moon for it, whenever it gets finished.

How was your week - any Facts of Life lessons learned for you too?

17 December 2011

Well isn't that swell.

He better understand Christmas knitting and deadlines!
I have done something to my shoulder.  Just over a week ago, I woke up with what felt like a crick in my neck.  You know the scene - you wake up and your shoulder/neck area is just sore and needs to be worked out but it feels better in a day or two at most... yeah, that's what I thought what was going on.

It's now 9 days later and simply sitting in this chair is causing a burning in my left shoulder blade so intense it feels as though someone lit a thousand matches and is holding them to my skin.  I can't move it to a comfortable position to save my soul.  Sleeping has been near impossible sans little inadvertent power naps that are lazy boy/heating pad combo induced.

Normally, I am so stubborn that I will just wait for it to move on but I don't want Christmas to be hampered by my shoulder and neck pain so I am going to the doctor today at 3:30 p.m. which means I get to sit in the waiting room with people who are actually ill and not just in pain.  I don't like sitting in mixed waiting rooms - I wish they were more like pediatrician's offices where you have a well side and a sick side... at least it gives the illusion of germ containment.

All of this pain has slowly sidelined all of my knitting.  I am hoping that my doctor can do something, anything, to ease the pain (or mask it at the very least) so that I can finish my knitting and take a super huge nap.  I can't simply "rest" because then my house would look like a pig sty and I would be in the foulest mood ever witnessed by the naked eye.  So he's just got to fix it... and I've just got to get up now because I've reached my threshold from sitting here.

Man, this couldn't have waited until January... I've got things to do... sheesh!
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