twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Decisions, decisions. January 24, 2017

Filed under: jewels,knitting,life,writing — kathy @ 11:35 am
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“The only thing you want to do is stay in bed and pet me…I repeat, the only thing you want to do…”

Are you like this?

 

Over any given weekend, do you take time to make a list of things you’d like to do/accomplish during the upcoming week?

 

And then once the week begins, do the other “must handle” items like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and household chores get in the way and all your good intentions go out the window?

 

Does it drive you crazy, too?

 

I used to be so good about defining my goals and crossing them off my ever-lengthening to-do list—oh, how I love to cross stuff off my list—but the last few weeks, I look at that list and feel paralyzed. Forget all the other stuff that gets in the way; I just can’t choose where to start. And then I panic a little.

 

I realize some of that panic comes from the place in my head I mentioned a few weeks ago, the place where I feel I’m running out of time in my life. But this is getting out of hand. Some days I look up at the clock and see it’s noon and I am still sitting, cat on lap, trying to decide what to do that day. By then it’s usually too late to start anything of great importance, so I just run the vacuum around the house, or sort through the mail. Bleh.

 

I pondered this dilemma a good while this morning—two full coffee mug’s worth of time—(see what I mean?) and finally had this brilliant idea. Well, it seems brilliant now…we shall see.

 

Anyway, I thought that if every night before I went to bed I decided what I would tackle the following day and set things up to be able to jump right into my project, I’d be a step ahead of the game and save time, too. Kind of like laying my clothes out the night before. No heavy thinking, just get up, take care of the morning stuff, and then get to work.

 

Starting tomorrow—I mean tonight—I’ll begin this experiment. Let you know how it turns out…

 

Have you got any special ways to get your projects underway every day? Would love to know.

 

Brown days January 11, 2017

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Can’t I just stay in bed and cuddle with him?

You may think from the title, that I’m referencing the dreary browns of winter, but no. Bug’s high school (can you believe she’s a senior?!) has alternating class days: brown days and gold days. On gold days, classes officially start at 8:45 am, although the teachers are available at 7:45 if the kids need to come in for help, or make up a test. But not brown days. Brown days start at 7:45.

Which means I have to get this tired body into some clothes—I never just throw a coat on over my pjs and go because the day I do that would be the day my car would break down or someone would hit me—and my teeth brushed by 6:15.  On brown days, I need to snap to it right away. Make lunch and breakfast for Bug—yes, I still do that for her, even though she can handle it herself—and drive her to school because with her recent health issues, she still hasn’t had a chance to get her license yet.

So when the alarm goes off, I hit snooze and flip the day’s plans through my head while trying to lift myself out from under a cat and the warm blankets before the alarm sounds again. I’ve done that without too much trouble over the years, but lately, I find myself really struggling. I’ve been dragging myself out of bed with a big groan.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not much of a morning person, although in the past 10 years or so, I’ve discovered that I don’t mind the early hours so much. It’s quiet in the house, in the world, even. I feel I have a little time to myself before everyone needs me to do something. My mother always got up around 5:00 am. She’d have her toast, coffee and newspaper, and let the dog out before she had to pry us kids out of bed. Smart lady.

But recently, thinking of all the things I’m planning to get done that day seem overwhelming instead of inspiring me to get a move on. It’s been harder than ever to push myself out of bed and get going, and I couldn’t figure out what to do to make it easier. I tried going to bed earlier, not using the computer right before I went to bed, even drinking some Sleepy Time Tea so I’d get a better night’s sleep. Still, early morning would come, that alarm would go off, and I’d cringe.

Then last night, while I was in the midst of my nightly prayer of gratitude, a funny old memory snuck into my thoughts.

My mom and I had been having coffee during the early morning hours of one of my summer visits home. We were chatting when we heard my dad moving around upstairs and then pretty clearly heard him swear; my mom laughed a little and told me that’s the first thing he’d been saying every morning lately. Now I don’t know if he said what he said  because he hadn’t been feeling well, or if there was some other reason for a swear to be the first thing he said in the morning. But it occurred to me then that the first thing out of your mouth, or even in your mind, shouldn’t be so negative. How could that be healthy?

I’ve always felt words have energy and power; words are a prayer.

So as I fell asleep last night, I decided to figure out a positive word I could think/say when I woke up this morning. “Welcome” was the winner, and as I woke this morning and stretched and whispered the word into the darkness, it felt soothing.

I have to admit that the rest of this morning seemed to flow with more ease and I had more patience than usual. We’ll see how the busy day ahead shakes out. Meanwhile I think I’ll continue this morning word experiment, for at least the next few months.

 

An Intentional Hail Mary January 5, 2017

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Last year I managed to do something I once promised myself I wouldn’t do: I completely, utterly ignored my blog for nearly an entire year.

Sure, past years, about midway through, life got crazy and I skipped a month or three of blogging. But the last year has been so overwhelming and relentless that every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t puzzle out where the heck to even start.

Some of you friends know the health challenges my little family has faced this past year; all of these difficulties were enough to affect each of us so deeply that just making it through each day alive was a victory. And sadly I know that many, if fact all of us out there, face tremendous struggles daily. And often, privately.

In my own case, beyond physical frustrations and pain, much of the suffering I struggle with revolves around how life has seemed to pass me by. I am haunted by my inability to yet accomplish goals I’d pinned to the walls of my mind as a bright young thing. Now tattered, these plans flap in the winds of time. The days have flown with the winds. It seems the grind of life has ground on, but I don’t feel improved by any of my trials. Older, certainly; but not wiser.

Still, recognizing that inner work needs to be done is some kind of progress, right? At least I’m awake enough to see that I need that soul work to become the person I was born to be. To be a person who lives thoughtfully, with intention and gratitude. To make thoughtfulness the place in my mind I where I automatically start thinking. To banish negativity. Especially self-directed negativity. And as though to underline all that thinking, the universe appears to be throwing teachers in my path.

Recently I came across a lovely memoir called Never Broken, by Jewel, the singer. I haven’t finished it yet, however I find myself inhaling her words. Her early years, full of struggle and pitfalls, belie the strength and insight this woman has nurtured within herself: her journaling, poetry/songwriting, and creed have a thoughtfulness that is inspirational. In the afterword of her book, she lists things she did to help “retrain” her thoughts and behaviors and they are such wise simple things such as Spend time in silence, Establish a gratitude practice, Create a home for happiness, Embrace imperfection, to name a few. To some, these statements may seem like self-help retreads, however, when read within the context of her memoir, you see them in action. She actually lives her belief that inside each of us is a perfect soul that can never be broken, and that no matter what bad things happen to you, your soul is still there, untouched and waiting for you to reveal its strength and beauty. We just have to do the work to look inside.

And then, there is my personal guru and friend, Elizabeth Duvivier. She is an amazing soul, a wise woman, a gentle but spirited teacher. She is the creator of the legendary Squam Art Workshops (which will sadly come to an end after their fall retreat this year). I was personally introduced to her genius when I took an online workshop she was offering in 2014, called The Magic of Myth. Here we studied the ancient myth of Psyche and Eros, and then, using our newly found insights, we wrote myths of our own. This class touched me in a way I hadn’t expected, however. It not only inspired me to focus on my writing again, but further, it forced me to look deeper inside myself and find the themes that defined how I saw myself…how life’s journey had shaped me.

This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Elizabeth’s “Into the Mystic” retreat. I can’t possibly go into all the details here (though perhaps I will sometime), but I found myself awakening new areas of my psyche while there. Trying to see my self without judgment, was a practice I began to work on. And very difficult indeed for me.

And in 10 days, I am thrilled to say I’ll be taking Elizabeth’s new online year-long course, The Magic of Myth II–End of the Quest. (I believe there are still spots available–you might want to check it out) We’ll be working to go further inward, to “live from our source.” By doing so, I hope to learn to be able to see and feel more clearly why I’m here. This explanation barely scrapes a tiny line into the depth I suspect this course will have, however, as Elizabeth always says, you choose how deep you want to go.

And I say, hell. Time’s running out. Go long, go deep. It’s gonna be a Hail Mary pass sort of year…I can feel it.

 

 

Time Bandits January 27, 2016

Captain Romance's Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Captain Romance’s Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Yup. You know how it goes: you get going on a project and the next thing you know, bang–it’s time to pick up the kid, start dinner, do the dishes, and lay your head down for another day.

Been like that around here for days and weeks and months.

And it generally starts innocently at the beginning of the school year with the idea that I’ll  knit a couple of gifts for Christmas, or dye some yarn and list it in the Etsy shop, or perhaps make a whole new line of necklaces to sell or give as gifts. Sew myself a couple of tops with that cool new Double Gauze I’m seeing everywhere. And spend a week cleaning out the closets. Love doing that. Oh yes, and there’s the writing, too. Oh, the writing.

The writing is the thing that my Time Bandits love most. Once I get going, everything but the story, the laptop, and the music coming from my earbuds disappear around me. Time disappears. Literally.

I read somewhere that that means one is working “in the zone.” All I know, is when I finally surface after hours of writing, I’m drained. But drained in a good way. Like the way you feel after a good yoga class. Like I accomplished something.

I hope you have something that makes you feel that way. Now if I could only figure out a way to keep those dang Time Bandits at bay.

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

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Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there's also a headband)--a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there’s also a headband)–a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug’s.

 

We all need a hug… November 13, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 8:20 pm
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…Oh God. I’m watching the coverage of the terror attacks in Paris right now, and my heart is so very heavy. It’s like 9/11 all over again. I ask you, dear friends, to please pray for those poor innocent souls. God bless them and send their families comfort. My heart is aching for them.

I’m sorry to take my light-hearted knitting blog to this place, but I feel like I’m watching pure evil run loose in the world. And it’s not just in Paris. What about the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East—and few are reporting about it because it’s not, well, politically correct. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before the terror comes here again. I’m not saying there aren’t problems in this country, but I am saying we need to stop dividing ourselves from one another and find reasons to unite. To love one another. Forget about opposing religious or political views. Some of my very best friends have different political views than I, and I love them dearly. They are unique and special to me in so many ways. We can all find reasons to unite if we open our eyes to them.

And hey, like Todd Rundgren says, “Love is the answer.”

There, that’s said.

And I do believe we all need a hug. A great big one. And if it’s a long distance hug you want to give, little is better than a shawl. And best of all is a shawl made with 3 skeins (or better would’ve been 3.5 skeins if I’d had them) of Malabrigo Worsted.

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Recently, a dear, sweet friend of mine has been taking on more of life’s tough times than she can handle, and honestly, since she’s thousands of miles away, I felt that she needed a good long-distance hug. I pulled out one of my favorite patterns, Stephen West’s Glacial Sweep.

This is a much better representation of the color

This is a much better representation of the color

 

I started it last Saturday, and am just finishing the contrast I-cord bind off. I love this shawl for so many reasons, not the least of which is it features lots of garter stitch and clever short rows in those garter stitch sections. And even though I ran out of yarn halfway through the final section(I know, but I was using Stash, so, I’m not being hard on myself), it didn’t much matter. Not at all. This isn’t one of those lace shawls where stitch count isn’t critical. Plus, though the pattern is written for fingering weight or worsted/aran weight yarn, I am fairly certain that you could be successful with any weight yarn.

Another wonderful shawl I’ve made for sending long-distance love is also a Stephen West shawl (just love his inventive, architectural constructions), and also a terrific shawl for giving to men, and that is his Boneyard Shawl.

Yet another fun shawl to work up for a hug is one designed by my Squam cabin mate Heather Classen called “Shuffle.” It’s lots of fun to knit. You have to check it out.

All of these work up relatively quickly, and all are wonderful hugs to send to well-loved friends. Especially now.

Knit some love, friends.

 

How do they do it? October 20, 2015

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Seriously–how does a person knit a long, lacy sweater in just a couple of weeks?

C’mon, I know I’m not the only one who notices a fellow Ravelry knitter’s gorgeous project, and then trolls through all of their projects, flabbergasted to find that many of this person’s complicated sweater projects are done in a mere 2 or 3 weeks. Wha–?

Now I’m not going to call anyone out on that. But if you’re on Ravelry, you’ve surely seen folks who knit that fast and have hundreds of projects.

Actually I have to chuckle. Whenever I see something like “437 projects” in someone’s profile, they usually fit into one of four categories: Knits Like The Wind, Can’t Resist Casting On Another Project, Knits Accessories/Toys, and, Local Yarn Store Owner.

I could certainly put myself into that “Can’t Resist…Project” category (although I only have 150ish projects). I admit to having a short attention span when knitting a cardigan. I rationalize that a quick little shawl or pair of hand warmers will be easy to cart around and will make a little dent into the sock yarn stash (Oh that prodigious sock yarn stash). It doesn’t help that I enjoy making sweaters in one piece, top down or bottom up. At some point the thing is impossible to take around with me because it’s just too large. Though that in itself should be a good reason for me to stick to my diet, haha. So I cast on something new, something small fairly often.

I also can’t resist knitting gifts–some which don’t even make it into my Projects List because I finish it and give it before I remember to take a photo.

Still, this category always manages to make me smile, especially when the knitter has nearly as many WIPs (works in progress) as finished objects.

The “Knits Accessories/Toys” category is an interesting one. Even though I myself knit lots of accessories (mitts, shawls, and hats, mainly), I also knit many sweaters. But then there’s toy knitting. Don’t get me wrong–I love knitted toys! They’re adorable. But now that Bug’s nearly old enough to go to college, I don’t bother much with them, though frankly I have quite a few “I’ll knit these someday” toy patterns. Still, there are many knitters who mainly knit toys. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that they have many little ones–kids or grandkids–who’ll enjoy them.

The LYS owner with their dozens of WIPs always makes me wonder if these poor folks ever have time to enjoy finishing a project. Of course I see lots of these projects around their shops, so they must finish them. Guess they’re just too busy to update their Project pages, which is, IMO a good thing. If my LYS is too busy, that means business is good, and that means I’ll have someplace to lurk and pet yarn. 😉

It’s those who Knit Like The Wind that make me feel both in awe and inadequate.

This is "Darling Emma" by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

This is “Darling Emma” by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago, I decided to pick up an old WIP that I really loved and “finish the dang thing already.” There wasn’t anything wrong with it; I loved the pattern, adored the yarn, and had been steadily working on it–for about 2 years! I just couldn’t seem to find a chunk of uninterrupted time to make substantial progress. Seriously, sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win the race. You’re just slow. I think it requires steady focus to finish the race.

And because I wanted to wear the sweater to a wedding (two and a half weeks from then), and it was only 30 percent finished, I certainly had a reason to focus.

What I really needed was uninterrupted time. Ha. Ha.

I worked on that puppy every single chance I got, mostly ignoring the housework and barely feeding my family. And though at times I wondered if it actually would be possible to finish, I did it!

Which lead me to the very unscientific conclusion that someone who can knit a huge, and/or complicated sweater or shawl in just a couple of weeks has either a housekeeper and cook, or is just plain fast as hell. Mad Skills!

This little cutie shawl's been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag...;)

This little cutie shawl’s been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag…;)

 

Where do I begin? September 12, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 1:33 pm
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Yep, it’s been a while. A long while. I know this hasn’t been the first time, but it was the first time I considered stopping the blog altogether.

I don’t know what to say other than in the past few months, my life feels like that spare room/closet/out of the way corner/basement/attic in everyone’s house…you know, the one where you open the door and pitch stuff inside and tell yourself that you’ll get to it later. That’s about the best way I can describe it all.

At the start of the summer, I was just back from Squam, refreshed and filled with ideas. Then the reality of the everyday forced its unwelcome self into my life, while the practical part of me insisted I need to finish every last thing I’d started in the past year.

There were stories that needed editing. Those were high on the list. Then came the knitting UFOs (unfinished objects) I was itching to finish. Next, there was a test knit to finish, yarn to dye, rosaries and jewelry to finish, photograph, and list on Etsy. There were new knitting patterns I was anxious to start. Gift knitting for new babies and brides, and friends who’re not feeling well filled that space. I wanted to use my dang PMC kiln already. A course in the “The Artist’s Way” was repeatedly started and put on hiatus. I was going to teach myself screenplay writing. I wanted to sew project bags and learn how to use my new serger. There was berry-picking with Bug and making jam. I wanted to start to look through college guidebooks for Bug (I know, right?). The bedroom and bathrooms needed painting. The roses needed work, and one of these days I was going to finish transcribing all my recipes written on scraps of paper into the new recipe binder I bought when Borders was going out of business.

Phew. That was just the stuff I’d written down at the beginning of June. I know,  I have that “eyes bigger than my stomach” syndrome. But also, I feel that part of my problem is I feel life passing so fast, now. It’s a blur. And in considering what I want to do each day, I become nearly paralyzed with the choices that I end up doing something mindless like cleaning out the medicine cabinet. It’s so frustrating.

And then there was blogging.

Let me start by saying, though little of what I have to say is of much consequence, I do love it. I especially love the connection it provides with people I might never have the chance to meet otherwise. It’s a sharing space, a place of reflection and community.

That said, this past summer, every time I pulled up the “New Post” page, I admit I was just stuck. I felt pulled in so many directions, I couldn’t seem to make a coherent string of words come out of my head. Some of it made it to Instagram, but mostly it just swirled around in my head.

Sorry.

So, here’s a quick recap of summer stuff that actually happened (the photos have jumbled themselves all up, but I think you’ll be able to figure out what’s what. Sorry):

 

IMG_3394Berry-picking with Bug and jam-makingIMG_3400

I finished a number of UFOs and about 5 gift-knitting things (here are just a few)IMG_3414IMG_3737

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Yarn-dyeing! (Oh yes, and a pattern for mitts to make with some of the yarn, too!)

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A girlie road trip with my sis, niece, and Bug to check out Grinnell College.

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A new short story was finished and many recipes written into new binder, too.

So, there’s still a lot to accomplish…just gonna chip away at it all a little at a time. Makes me feel a little like Sisyphus, though.

 

Perhaps if I hijack one of these bad boys, I’ll get it done. Eventually

 

 

 
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