Monthly Archives: January 2010

That Sewing Thing

So I’ve been hinting a lot at some sewing that might be going on around here. Much of it started before Christmas, and as much as I want to I’m not even going to get into the whole Christmas sewing rundown. There was too much. Let’s just say it involved six pairs of pajamas and a party of pre-Christmas crafters over at my house one night.

The pajamas were sewn with this newest member of my workroom:
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It’s a Janome Magnolia serger and I am in love. My grandmother gifted us some cash for some home improvements and I was also told to “get a little something” for myself. This model is very budget friendly (@$250) and I must say, not scary at all. Machines freak me out. I was terrified of my first sewing machine and even my spinning wheel was intimidating. But I took the serger class at my local sewing store and wow, piece of cake. This thing just whips out the sewing.

I thought having the serger alone was heaven, little did I know that this would be waiting for me on my workroom table when we got home from our Christmas visit to my MIL’s:

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A Bernina. And it’s a really, really nice Bernina. Nice enough that I never even dreamed about a machine like this, considering we’re pretty much flat broke most of the time these days. So how did I end up getting one for Christmas? Get your tissues…

The Skeptic and I have been together since we were poor college students. Which means that back in the day we never had much money to spend on gifts for one another. And even when we graduated, both worked full time and still had no mortgage, we never jumped into the pricey Christmas gift range. Spending $50 was pushing it. So of course now, with us working a little over full time between the two of us, three boys and a mortgage, this Christmas was planned to be a thrifty one. So when I got a little hank of roving for Christmas from the Skeptic I was happy and considered that a bit of a splurge (silk and alpaca!).

But when we got home, late Sunday night Little Man made me cover my eyes and dragged me up to the workroom and surprise, there is the Bernina sitting on my table. How on earth?? We’ll, remember that crafting night just before Christmas? A friend of mine there, a serious quilter friend, had just gotten herself a new Janome for quilting and was ready to part with her Bernina. I was tempted, she e-mailed me the specs but still, she wanted $500 for it and we really didn’t have the money to spend. But my Skeptic is a very, very generous guy. (This is the tissue part). He had just sold his beater of a car for $500 a couple of weeks before and was planning on using the money to get a new computer (and his current computer is a slow, sad, computer). But he e-mailed this friend of mine and used his computer money to buy me the sewing machine. I’ve never been so surprised or touched by a gift. Talk about generous guy. I am so very, very lucky.

I think I’m ready to tackle something like this.

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2009 / 2010

I’m a bit late since January is almost over, but I really like to take some time each year to review what last years goals were and take a look at what I want to accomplish this year. I’m not one for resolutions but goals I like.

So let’s take a look at last year:

1. Expand my spinning techniques. I’d like to expand beyond my typical bulky/worsted weight and try cabled, three ply and sock yarn. Maybe a couple more…beaded?? Hmmm, kind of. I did expand my basic skills by spinning true worsted and just spinning a better quality yarn. But three ply, cabled and beaded are still on the list. So is sock yarn. Maybe this year?

2. Dye some yarn. Even if it’s just one skein. Didn’t happen.

3. Mindful stashing. (Thank you Clara!) I like this idea, and I’ve already dug through the closet and listed around 40 balls of yarn that I like but don’t LOVE. I  just don’t see myself getting use out of them anytime soon. I’ve put them up on my local swap group and I’ll be listing the stuff that doesn’t sell on Ravelry as a sell or trade item in my stash. I did sell some of my yarn and I’d like to do the same again this year. And I did let myself buy some yarn, but not very much so I’d say I’m good on this goal.

4. Sweaters. I really, really want to knit sweaters. I’ve spent a lot of time knitting socks, soakers, hats, mittens. I want a sweater. I want my boys to have sweaters. The Skeptic says “just knit me socks.” So I don’t have to worry about him yet. But sweaters, yeah, sweaters….I did knit two sweaters for myself, Ubernatural and Diminishing Ribs. And I finished up a sweater for Spinner so I’d say this one’s a yes.

5. Sew pants and shorts for my boys. I did do a few of these….

Okay, so it was hit or miss for last years goals. Granted, 2009 was not a great year. Most of you know it was bad enough that on New Years Eve this year I was tempted to take to 2009 calendar in the back yard and burn it. So having time to do some of these things, well…it just wasn’t going to happen. But that’s okay, it did still get through a lot of knitting, because if all else fails there’s always knitting to fall back on, right?

So, 2010. What will it be?

1. Knitting: I’d really like to knit a lace shawl. And I’d like to knit more complex patterns. 2009 was the year I like to call “The Year of Mindless Knitting” which is what I needed at the time. This year I want charts. Lots of charts!

2. Spinning: Repeat last years goal: cabled, three-ply, beaded, sock.

3. Sewing: Ooooh, this is the big one. Why??? I’ll tell you in a minute. But my mind is on two things, sewing clothes and quilting. I’d like to learn to sew clothing for myself and I’d like to do two quilts, one machine quilted and one small hand quilted item.

4. Weaving: What??? Weaving, you say? How did weaving get in here? Well, last year my family went together on a Cricket loom for my birthday. But that was the time that we lost my father-in-law, so it pretty much sat around for quite awhile. When I did warp it, it was for a practice scarf that Little Man and I were working on together. That scarf is still on the loom. I’d like to finish it up and start a scarf for me.

5. Dying: Um, let’s be realistic here. Probably not. But I did acquire two crock pots in case I feel the urge.

Now, how realistic is all this, actually? I’m not sure, and it’s going to be tough. The chance that I might just dissolve back into mindless knitting is quite real, since I am in full on toddler-hood with Spinner, and since Knittykid is in that  oh so fun “Hey, I have a mind of my own!” stage, this will be a hard year to get much done.

Yesterday at playgroup, some friends and I were chatting. (Isn’t that what playgroup is for?)  We are all on baby number three, and we were talking about how when we all had our first babies, it seemed so hard. We talked about how just the idea of leaving the house with our three month old baby was overwhelming and we’d take three days just to pack the diaper bag. We’d say it’s “soooo haaaarrrd” and the older moms would smile an nod. Because they knew.  A three month old is a piece of cake. It would get harder, much harder because that three month old world turn one. And a one year old? A one-year-old is adorable. They are sweet and cute and hilarious. They learn a new thing every two seconds and that is a delight. They snuggle, they giggle, they adore you. That saves your sanity. Because with a one year old you will get absolutely nothing done for an entire year. You will spend your entire day taking rolls of toilet paper our of the toilet and saying “For the love of god please let go of mommy’s leg for two seconds!!” All while your almost-four-year-old sits on the floor screaming “I HATE YOU!!!” because you won’t give him ice cream for lunch. (Thank god for the almost-seven-year-old who has sense enough to hide in the workroom upstairs doing his math). Once they go to bed you will knit four rows of a sock and fall asleep on the couch.

And readers, I will leave you hear, and tell you about why I’ll be sewing more in another post. Because at 6am this morning I was delusional and thought I could write this post amidst my boys. It is now 8:30 and there is much screaming and gnashing of teeth, something about “my blueberries” so I will stop here, and leave you all to giggle to yourselves about my 2010 goals. I think a certain one-year-old needs a little love, and isn’t that the real goal of 2010? So I rephrase my 2010 goals:

1. Give lots of love.

Anything else that gets done is just a bonus. 🙂

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Taking Tea

Because boys will be, um…boys. I decided it’s time to learn some manners…..
Taking tea

We sipped our tea, ate our cookies and tried really, really hard to not get crumbs all over ourselves. So far Knittykid is the winner in the neatness category. Little Man saw no benefit to the exercise and professed his love of sloppiness. Although he did like the fake British accents…..

And spinning, because I need a hat. This hat in particular. And I have no cash and not the right yarn, so this will be my first attempt at recreating a yarn that I would normally buy. A bulky yarn, tricky when I’ve been working so hard to spin finer yarns. This will be a two-ply bulky yarn. I hope…..
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A book review of a different kind

I’m lucky to drive right past the library on my way home from, well, pretty much everywhere. When the boys aren’t with me I’ll usually grab a few books for them. Star Wars was the request today, but there were no Star Wars books in so I quickly scanned the shelves for something else. And what should I run across but a true gem of a book? The Truly Terribly Horrible Sweater That Grandma Knit.

Now, never fear. This is not an anti-knitting book! It tells the story of a boy who gets a hand knit sweater from his grandma for his birthday, a sweater that he hates. He goes through all sorts of antics to get rid of the sweater, until Grandma comes to visit. The rest, I’ll leave you to find that out….

Little Man and Knittykid both loved it, especially the repetitive line, “It was a truly terribly horrible sweater…and Cameron was never going to wear it.” We said ti together each time. Spinner ignored it completely, so I can tell you it’s perfect for 6 year olds and preschoolers, one year olds, not so much. What I loved was that I was instructed to read it, “like a teacher” since it suddenly dawned on the boys that since I am a teacher, I possess the very difficult skill of reading while holding the book up in front of me while they perched on the coffee table. It is so very impressive that I am able to read to them upside down…a most important skill! *

A bonus for we grown ups who might choose to read this to our little ones? The pattern for the sweater is in the back on the book. You can knit a truly terribly horrible sweater for you favorite little boy yourself.

Lastly, thank you for the thoughts on my last post. It’s so helpful to bounce things off of all of you!

*Little Man once told me he had a substitute teacher who obviously was not a real teacher, since she could not read upside down.

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It’s that time of year…

(Long, and at least slightly rambling post ahead, completely lacking in pictures. Thoughts seriously appreciated, knitting content to resume next post)

New Year’s always makes me feel thoughtful. Sometimes it’s pretty basic, such as “we need to whip this house into shape” or “we need to cut down on the sugar.” Other times I tend to think a little deeper about things. This year, I’m thinking really deeply about things. Especially today, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been listening to Sun Kil Moon all day, which has also made me a wee bit pensive.

Most of you will remember that 2009 was not a good year. I would say it was pretty darn to close to catastrophic, but not quite, since the tornado did leave our house standing. But when you lose your father-in-law, put your dog to sleep, have two of your children in the hospital a total of four times, and have your home take a good smacking from a tornado it makes your pretty reflective about things.

Now I don’t want this to be a downer of a post. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2010, so stick with me here. But I am feeling like it’s time to hash things about a bit. You see, it’s about that time when I’ve realized I have A Life. What I mean by that is when you are younger, say… still in your twenties, pre-kids, pre-house, you’re still building that life. Which means nothing is truly decided. Moving is easy, career changes are easy. You still think that you could really, truly pick up and move to India is you really wanted to. But all of a sudden you wake up one day and you realize that you’ve made your life, and a good one at that. But you also realize that you could have made some other decisions, and you wonder if the life you’ve built is the right one. That’s where I’m at.

The reality is we’ve built a really nice life for us here in Minneapolis. We’ve got a nice house in a nice city. We’ve got close friends who will help with anything at the drop of a hat. We’ve got a community of people who we fit with, a school for the boys that won’t test them to death. I can bike down the street for fresh organic ice cream,  espresso and pastry, sushi or wood fired pizza. I’ve got coops, bakeries, yarn and fabric stores galore, bike trails, lakes, music…. and we live in this nice little bubble where I’m not a weirdo for using cloth diapers, not having a TV or hating Starbucks. We’ve got health insurance and two good part time jobs that add up to one full time job, meaning we both get to be at home with the kids. In fact, it’s pretty sweet, and when I read it all I can think is “what’s the problem???”

My other imaginary life of course. That’s the problem. The life where we live out in the country, milk our own cow, raise our own sheep, homeschool our kids and just enjoy the quiet, the solitude, the romping around in the woods….Of course in my head this is perfect. The reality is we chose not to move to the country last year, even though we had the chance to take over the farm when the Skeptic’s mother moved into town. The amount of work the house would need, the fact that there is no work for an audio engineer and music teacher in central Wisconsin, the not knowing if we’d make the type of close friends or find the community we have here…so many variables. And a change like that isn’t easy when you’ve got your life established, things are settled and already good. But then there is the question, could it be better? Have we missed something?

Or are we realistic? The Skeptic and I both fully admit we love to take it easy. Feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes is a chore and I think I can milk a cow twice a day? Or even take care of some chickens?  With three little boys? It’s hard to say, really. I keep telling myself that the city is the right choice for us now, maybe we’ll retire to the country. But then I read blogs like this one and think we could build our own house, we should do it, pick up the kids, find some land, off we go!!! We’d never really know unless we tried….

I think what makes it tough is I really want both, and that’s just not going to happen. Which just get’s my head spinning and thinking, which one is better? But I think the reality is your life is what you make of it, no matter where you end up. Is one better? Or are they both equally good, just very different?

So what’s your imaginary other life? Do you have one? Do you ever wish you could make a big change? Or are you content with how things have played out? Or maybe you’re still in that early phase, nothing really to hold you back?

Now, I’ve got to go whip this house into shape. And throw out the sugar.

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