29 January 2010

flashback: hedgerow jacket

in 2007, chuck and i surprised his parents by showing up on their doorstep the day before thanksgiving. we were there about a week, and of course i knit while we relaxed and talked. my mother in law surprised me (almost as much as we had surprised them, i think) by asking me to make her a sweater. not a hat, or a scarf, but a sweater. i was too shocked and impressed with her daring to say no. she picked out a pattern (hedgerow coat) for a long cardigan and a charcoal color (we couldn't have done that without ravelry) and i warned her it would be a long time coming since my queue was a bit overfull.

in december of 08, yarn was bought and swatched. i started with the sleeves, 2 at a time, because i hate finishing the main part of a sweater and thinking, oh, there's only 2 little sleeves left - which then take forever to finish. the sleeves came along great, sharing time with some other projects, and were done by springtime. at least that's when i took a picture of them, although they look as if they'd been folded a while already.hedgerow sleevesknowing how little i enjoy seaming, i knit the fronts and back as one piece to the armholes. hedgerow body cablesthen it was easy as pie to bind off the shoulders together and sew in the sleeves. the shawl collar didn't give me any problems, and i liked that the cables were repeated in the collar.hedgerow collarhedgerow collar cable detail
i found some engraved wood buttons that seemed to complement the sweater and brighten it up a bit.hedgerow buttonhonestly, by the time i was done i was a bit jealous, and thought about keeping it for myself. that it was in my size didn't make it any easier.hedgerow jacketbut i dutifully sent it off, along with some wool wash. chuck kept reassuring me that his mom would love it, to which i always replied, "she'd better," in a growly sort of voice. not having the person around to double-check fit worries me, so i was relieved when the sweater arrived and it fit perfectly! she sounded very pleased and happy, and since she's the sort of woman to speak her mind, i believe her even without photographic evidence.

and when chuck's sister said, "now you can knit me a sweater", i said, "i can teach you to knit."

22 January 2010

a flower and some ugly socks

thank you all for the comments - i'm glad you kept me in your feed readers. 2009 was a busy year, just a lot happening, and while i don't think of it as a bad year, i don't think it was a favorite. although the hard bits tend to fall out of memory with time, so maybe i'll just remember it as the year my brother graduated college, i got to know my stepson better, and my frog nephew was born.

one thing i forgot to put in my bullet post was this horrible illness i battled the whole time i worked in delta, for six long months: internet deprivation. oh, it was scary. i couldn't check emails, my feed reader was so full it deleted blog posts unread, and of course, writing my own blog posts was well-nigh impossible. bills did manage to get paid on the weekends, but that was about it. since i stopped working i've been going through a recovery program and am almost back to full internet working speed. i'm only a week behind on reading blogs, so i may even start commenting again! emails will be written! (och du står först på listan Lasse!) it's a beautiful thing.

and most importantly (because there's a good chance of working in delta again this coming summer) i've got something on hand to cure any internet deprivation that may pop up: an iphone. it replaced a phone that was 4 years old and i'm loving it. easy to use and more intuitive than the other touch screens i looked at (the full keyboards didn't appeal to me). my very favoritest thing though, was discovering i could set the whole system to swedish. talk about options. for now, i'll stick to blogging from the computer, but having a backup option feels great.

being home has given me more time to focus on knitting projects, and i'm actually making progress. 2009 did not see the completion of very much, maybe because i worked on a couple sweaters but mostly because there just wasn't that much time for knitting. it feels great to see something grow in weeks rather than months. one project i've been focusing on is a doily pattern turned blanket, from the second book of modern lace knitting. it's called daffodil, and i couldn't resist knitting it in yellow.
daffodil center motifthe first rows flew by (it's knit from the center out) with all the changes. watching the pattern develop really keeps me knitting, i want to see the next bit take shape. now i'm less than 20 rows from finishing, and each round takes almost an hour. ugh. it's much harder to see progress, but i'm plugging along. the daffodil motif is actually visible now.daffodil motifluckily, the other project i'd been focused on got finished last week! there's almost nothing like the exhilaration of completing a project - except maybe picking what to start next. this project was a pair of socks for chuck. amazingly, i started them way back in december of 2008. i switch off sock projects to keep myself engaged and my gauge constant (if i knit 2 socks in a row, the second is always slightly larger for some reason). the first sock was finished sometime in the spring, i think. then i knit a sock for myself and finally got around to starting the second sock in december - almost a year after starting the first one.herringbone stitchthe stitch pattern is a herringbone stitch from one of the walker treasuries, done more for my sake than chuck's. he likes his socks pretty plain but i wanted something to make them interesting to knit. the herringbone worked well with the color changes. speaking of color, chuck picked out the yarn (online supersocke) and he's very satisfied with the socks. however, the overall brown tweediness of the yarn with the black and grey stripes is about the ugliest combination i've ever seen, which prompted me to dub them ugly socks. luckily chuck isn't offended by that, and was just happy to see them finished.ugly socksin the meantime, some malabrigo that i was gifted in my local knitting group's christmas swap was begging to be made into a hat...............

08 January 2010

a look back at 2009

i've never done one of those "year in review" posts before.....but seeing as i didn't post all year it's the best way to sum up and move on. the last time i blogged i was trying to catch up, and that didn't get very far. unfortunately, i'm the sort that has to catch up at least minimally, or i always have the nagging sense that i forgot something. so, here goes.
  • the first few months of 2009 are a blur. work sucked and i sort of zoned out to make it bearable. this was a bad thing - apparently once you start zoning out, it's hard to stop. 

  • in march, i got laid off. this was ok by me. my superiors were never planning work for me and the atmosphere of uncertainty was slowly driving me mad (as was the boredom, see zoning out). how mad, i didn't quite realize till i was laid off and felt like a huge burden lifted. 

  • in may, my brother graduated college and we got to travel to massachusetts to see it. he's a single dad with 2 daughters and he's worked while studying for a lot of years. my nieces' were so happy for him, and i was so proud of him for persevering, it still chokes me up a bit.

  • while in massachusetts, i got to attend my first ever wool and sheep fair-festival-deal. lots of wool, spun and unspun, all of which i was too overwhelemed to take home with me. my mom tried out a spinning wheel and made a pretty good show of almost making yarn for the first time in her life. even chuck had fun. we also made it to webs' tent sale, where i was not as disciplined and made off with several kinds of laceweight.

  • also in march, i had a wisdom tooth erupt and got it pulled. fairly painlessly, in fact. it had been sticking into my cheek for 3 days before i could get to the dentist and having it gone hurt way less than its presence. there's still 3 left though......

  • for six months, starting in june, i worked in delta junction. it's a town just over an hour south of north pole. work itself was much better. living away from home, and only coming home on the weekends to unpack, do laundry, repack and leave again sucked.

  • shortly after starting work, i said "whatever" to the field supervisor. this got me relegated to the lab, which while better than being fired, still left me feeling imprisoned and very twitchy. luckily it only took a month to catch up to the artifacts pouring in from the field, and i was able to work outside again. most of the time.

  • my stepson moved in with us in july. he was arrested on father's day (while with his kids - o, the irony!) and my husband became his third party supervision while he's on bail. third party supervision is glorified babysitting at it's finest. glued to the hip is a good way to describe it. luckily, he was granted house arrest when he couldn't work anymore (in november) and me and chuck could go on dates again. it was wonderful. trips to the grocery store were exciting.

  • our finances are shot. there was bail and living/traveling expenses while i worked in delta. then there was our house in delta that wouldn't sell when the renter moved out in may - 2 mortgages, anyone? and repainting the whole interior before a new renter moved in.

  • i worked in delta right up to thanksgiving. that was mostly good. it was best after the field supervisor left at the end of the summer. lab work is not my cup of tea, but it was bearable. we had some good times, discovered some good music (great big sea, dropkick murphys, KT tunstall) thanks to online radio. 

  • thanksgiving was good. we had some good food. i made yeast rolls rather than biscuits for the first time in my life, and they were really good.

  • then we caught a wicked virus from bratling issac, who doesn't cover his mouth when he coughs. we were sick a week and didn't get to enjoy the thanksgiving leftovers at all. major bummer.

  • did i mention that the bratlings (chuck's 2 grandchildren, one boy, one girl, 9 and 6 respectively) have been over almost every weekend since their dad came to live with us? i used to think i liked them, but now i'm not sure. too close proximity and all that. makes me glad all over again that i don't have kids. 

  • i signed up for facebook at the urging of some work friends and feel like i interact more with my family that's on there. since we're not the best at calling each other, it's lots of fun.

  • december was a whirl of cleaning and decorating and baking and getting amped up for christmas. holidays just aren't the same without my huge family, but everything was relaxed and calm and peaceful. just seeing my husband everyday for over a month made everything great. christmas has this special, strange and deep happiness for me, i wish it lasted all year.

  • we ended the year with the corpse bride, ocean's 11, lots of junk food, the bratlings and some fireworks. we picked some good fireworks this year. the best was a setup of 25 shots that went off like a finale. somehow chuck managed to light them at 12.00 exactly.

  • just before the end of the year, my brother, jeremiah, and his wife had their first child. he's named after his dad, but with a different middle name which they're calling him by. the best part about him being named for his dad is we can continue all the bullfrog jokes into another generation. they live in guam though, so i keep trying to figure out how i can get over there to see the "little frog" in person.......he looks good in pictures!

which gets us to present day. i'm blissfully unemployed for the moment. there's a lithics analysis course being offered at UAF this semester that i'm working on attending, on the theory it will help me do my job better, perhaps in the winter, even. something that my masters in viking archaeology doesn't quite manage, sadly.

and i'm doing lots of housewifely stuff: cleaning, decluttering, baking, laundry, doing dishes, and cooking. trying to make my house into more of a home. enjoying being home, and realizing how much effort goes into making it a home, making it beautiful and comforting and welcoming. and also realizing that i enjoy making my home pleasant and appreciate it more after being away so long.

balance is a word, an idea, that is often in my thoughts right now, and often is when i'm out of work. a friend asked me yesterday if i had a whole hour to myself, what i would do. i asked if it was a trick question - after all, i decide what i do all day right now as it is. but i always struggle to balance things that must get done (like dishes or laundry), things that would be good to do (like organize the library so we can actually use the room) and things that are important to me (like emailing my friends and spending time with God). somehow the necessary things, the chore-like projects i have around the house, end up on top of my list, while the things that truly matter to me come last. it doesn't make much sense, and it's deeply frustrating. even more so because it's me frustrating myself. i'm not sure what i would do with that one hour. but i'm hoping to learn to balance all the demands i put on myself, to do what my heart says is important yet not neglect the cobwebs.

over the past year, i've thought a lot about blogging, why i do it, how i write, whether a blog ought to be narrowly focused on one tiny aspect of my life, if a post has to have pictures, and whether i'm able to balance blogging with spending time with people in the flesh. not too sure i have good answers to all of those questions, but i do miss blogging. it's sort of a message in a bottle, a shout-out to the whole world to see if anyone thinks i'm worth listening to. sort of like scanning space, hoping to find lifeforms to connect with, that understand our stories and broaden our lives with their stories. i still have messages to send it seems, i can only hope they're relevant.

and that someone is still listening besides the aliens.