Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Getting Close ...

I've bought the last of the yarn for Michael's blanket. After knitting up these skeins, I'll add as needed from a few odd and ends to make up the full count.

I almost didn't pick this book up because I felt the need for something narrative, but it turns out that this is basically a memoir, rather than a parenting handbook. I'm enjoying it. I've fallen into some bad habits of using food as motivation for good behavior ... Gregory in particular is addicted to "cackies" (Graham crackers). Time to change that!

Linking up with Ginny.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Naptime Miscellany--Moths and Other Oddities

This is what I get for offering to write a moth post.

One of the things I was/am going to mention in said post--you're never really rid of them. I think they can go dormant or something when the weather's cold, because they've been popping up now and then since April. All in our bedroom, which has almost zero wool in it, so I wasn't too concerned.

But it just keeps happening. Two or three males flying around that I squish or get caught in the traps.

Only this time I've found TWO downstairs. Deep breaths.

I am, once again, examining my yarn and other woolens from top to bottom, and STILL no traces of damage. They are like moth ninjas with a secret base somewhere, and it is stressing me out.

The fact is that moths are almost an inevitable part of life for any lover of natural fibers who lives in a certain climate. I was in the yarn store yesterday looking for something green, and I found a dead moth on a skein. In the yarn store! Once you know what you're looking for--and are paranoid enough to expect it everywhere--you will find them.

I'm not sure if that's encouraging or discouraging, but there it is.

It makes you wonder how old woolen textiles have survived so long. I guess it's a combination of climate control (winters without heat surely killed off many pests) and the fact that people didn't own an excess of clothes that were put into storage; most things were in regular use.

In other knitting-related weirdness ... my mother-in-law hadn't knit for years and years, but she had a canvas bag with some yarn and needles that Keith brought back from San Francisco. In it I found this odd tool, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. An unusual cable needle? Something for a craft other than knitting?

I posted the picture on Ravelry, and most of those people were just as stumped ... until a veterinarian came along and said it's a grooved director, or incision guide. A surgical tool used for guiding scalpels and other instruments where they need to go without cutting other tissues.

My MIL was never a vet, or a nurse, so I'm not sure why she even owned one of these, let alone how it ended up in her knitting bag! How funny, right? I wish I could ask her for the story behind it. I wish in general that knitting was something that we could have bonded over. There are a lot of things I wish, and I am realizing, a lot of hurts that I still have to process. But I hope, someday, we will meet again, and be able to know and love each other in a way that wasn't possible in this life.

And she can tell me why she had a surgical tool with her knitting needles. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Life-Changing Magic, and other things

You know the deal. Even when I can't keep up with anything else I can manage a yarn along post.** ;) I was a bit under the weather last week as I recovered from my first ever case of mastitis after almost 3.5 years of nursing. I have so much admiration for mothers who struggle with this on a regular basis early in their nursing relationship ... I think I may have given up if I hadn't so much experience behind me already.


Are you bored of leaves yet? ;) I pulled a skein of Tosh from my freezer , baked it in the oven, shook it vigorously to make sure no moth eggs came tumbling out, and ... it seems to be fine. No damage that I have noticed! Fingers crossed.

(I'm thinking of typing up a post--hopefully with pictures--about how to survive a moth infestation with your sanity intact ... helpful? Or have I talked about moths too much already?)

So many thoughts about this book. As I read it, I always picture a single person living on their own--or at least in a child-free household. I don't think her ideal really encompasses the necessary and healthy level of not being in control that comes from living with several little people who are figuring themselves and the world out. She writes of how tidiness can transform our lives by helping us make decisions about not just what we own, but who we are. I think this is great, but if you're living with people who are still figuring that out in the most basic of ways ... there's going to be some messiness. :) (Also, is it just me, or do her descriptions of herself as a cleanliness-obsessed child make anyone else a little sad??)

But I really love her philosophy about possessions. They are not bad. Your home is not a thing to be conquered, but love, and the things you own can and should bring you joy. But you shouldn't be so attached to things that you can't let them go. The material things around us are good and meant for our benefit and happiness. But they should not determine or own us. I love it.

Also I really need to try out her folding technique and see if it helps my husband's t-shirts fit in his dresser, because none of those are getting discarded anytime soon ... much to his wife's chagrin. (If there is one recurring disagreement in our marriage, it is about the number of t-shirts that's reasonable for one person to own. ;) )

I also just finished What Happened to Sophie Wilder. Oh my goodness. It took a bit of patience on my part because there was just a touch too much of the "jaded literary people living an immature lifestyle" stuff that can plague literary fiction. But I could tell it was going somewhere different. And it didn't disappoint. The ending of this book pulled the rug out from under my feet, in such a good and heart-aching way. I am still a little bit in shock. And still thinking about Sophie. As though she were a real person, who truly did wrestle with the truth as she knew it to be, versus the lived truth of suffering in mind and body. It is not a hard or a thick read, but it truly does seek truth, and it is excellent fiction, and so I recommend it highly.

Linking up with Ginny.

**Although I am loving Instagram lately. If you're on there, we should hook up! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stacking up!

After hearing an interview with the author on the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, I just finished The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. What an excellent book! A well-written memoir is one of my favorite things to read, and I can highly recommend this one.

(I am loving podcasts these days, by the way. Now that I have a smartphone I can listen to them in the car! I use the Stitcher app, but I don't know much about what else is out there. How do you listen to podcasts?)

Michael has attempted to stack books like this for the purpose of standing. It doesn't usually turn out well.
Thank you all for the feedback about colors for Michael's leaf blanket! A few of you were unsure what the final concept was. The pattern I'm using is the Family Tree Afghan. The leaves all get stitched together to form the blanket, and right now the plan is to spread out the colors as evenly as possible. :)

Last Saturday I bought some more green and blue yarn in shades close to those I've already used. I really, really love this yarn in DK weight, and the colors are just perfect.

Big stack of nonfiction from the library!
On days where we mostly stay at home and nothing crazy happens (ha), I can usually knit a leaf and a half. This is leaf number 65 of 110. (Or possibly 62. There are three leaves I've decided I don't like. But even though there's not that much difference between having 62 and 65 leaves, it's really hard for me to see that number go backwards ... so, right now I'm still including them in the final count!)

There's a layer of shawls under those leaves that I will have to block soon, just to make room for more. 

Sadly, somebody (don't know who for sure but I have my theories) got into my knitting basket and used one of my needles as a drumstick. It took me a while to find all the pieces. This pair belonged to my grandmother, and were among my favorites to use, so ... sadness. :( Luckily my bamboo needles get about the same gauge. 

Linking up with Ginny!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Leaves and Colors

I have been parenting solo since Friday, so, not much time for knitting or reading this week. But I met with the webcomic Namesake a few days ago, and ... well, that consumed my life for a few days. Now I'm caught up and have to wait for each page like a normal person. If you like fairy-tales, fanasy, and stories that are very meta ... you should read it. :) (Also if you like Oz. And super cute, not too sappy romance.)

I also recently read Eleanor & Park, which was ... okay. I really liked the beginning, which I thought was very original; not so much the second half. 

I've knit a few more leaves for Michael's blanket. Number 48 is on the needles out of 110, according to the pattern. I might stop at 100, depending on how big it is. (Although when you've come that far and only have ten left, I guess you might as well keep going!) 

My original idea was to stick only to leaf colors--green, brown, orange, red, yellow, plus some blue for the sky peaking through the leaves. But I'm wondering if maybe I should branch out? Maybe try some teal or some other jewel tone? I'm not sure. What do you think? I don't want it to look too "scrappy" ... perhaps I should buy more yarn in some of the colors I already have to keep it unified? 

A skein of teal?
Linking up with Ginny.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Naptime Miscellany

I am eating a taro bun right now, with coconut cream. Occasionally Keith stops by an Asian grocery and picks up all sorts of goodies for our freezer and pantry--pocky and potstickers and panda cookies and seaweed. I'm kind of addicted to the light-yet-chewy texture of these things. (Taro is also our favorite flavor of frozen yogurt at Razzy Fresh. I guess it's some sort of tuber?)

While I'm showing you pictures of my bookshelf (Tolkien is just to the left in that picture), this is our poetry shelf. It is a frequent victim of baby attacks because Dominic can easily reach it while standing on the armchair. And he always, always goes for this book. Never Browning, never Eliot, never Auden. I guess he has very modern tastes. (Also he likes yellow.)

Keith is currently away in San Franciso, for a wedding and to finish going through his mom's belongings. He left on Friday and comes back Thursday morning.

That's six solo bedtimes, people.

It's actually not so bad. (Knock on wood?) Every night once everyone's in bed I've been rewarding myself with ice cream and a glass of wine. Although the ice cream is all gone. The wine helps me sleep. Also at night I've been binge-reading this webcomic (recommended by Molly--thank you!!), but now I've caught up, which is awful. Truly. I hate catching up to webcomics! To be reading pages and pages each day and then suddenly you get three pages a week! It's torture.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I was there, and now I'm here--a CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference recap

Julie just posted her CWBN Mid-Atlantic recap, so I am finally going to hit publish on this. :)

Photo by Rosie Hill
I've been blogging for ten years.

That's a little embarrassing. I think I've covered my tracks well enough that you won't find the super-old stuff. (Please ... don't try. ;) )

When I started this particular blog, I wasn't quite clued in to the whole blog scene. I was burnt out from grad school, from self-conscious writing for workshops, and wanted a place where I could use my writing to express delight in things.

But I always write for an audience. I've never successfully kept a private journal. I want my words to be read. And as I followed more bloggers, gained followers I'd never met in "real life," and absorbed the blogging culture, I thought: what am I aiming for exactly? Am I just writing for friends, people who are already interested in me for my own sake? Or am I trying to gain an audience of some sort? Do I want to be a "real" blogger, and if I'm not, does it even matter if I only post once a month or less?

When Julie emailed to invite me to the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference, it was so validating. I may not have a header on my blog, or an "About Me" page, or even any photos in half my posts. But Julie had remembered my blog! And even where I lived! That meant something, right?

So I signed up and decided this would be my line in the sand. After this I would write again ... and be a "real" blogger.

God blessed me so much through that day, and I feel like I could type on for pages--about Julie and her wonderful hospitality, and how great it was just to sit and chat with her at her kitchen table in her beautiful home; about finally meeting fellow twin-moms Rosie and Abbey in person; about meeting and talking to so many wonderful women; about Leah and Cristina's great presentations, and Meg's talk on prayer that brought tears to my eyes. If I tried to go more in depth about these things, I would never finish this post.

But during lunch we sat in our assigned small groups, and mine was perfect. Abbey and Marie Bernadette have written about it. We were all in the same place--wondering if blogging was something that really belonged in our lives right now, and what it meant for us aside from "branding" and all that stuff that seemed to be for bigger bloggers. Having that conversation openly with others was such an encouraging experience, and I came away from it feeling very refreshed.

I admit I felt a bit sad leaving. There was talk of getting together again during the summer, which is something I couldn't do without it being a genuine road trip; and going back to "just blogging" together was a bit rough.

But ultimately, two words sum up my experience of the conference: refreshment and affirmation. The immediate community I experienced there was a reminder--this is why I blog. I have my communities here in Pittsburgh, which are vital to me. But connections made online are very real for me, too. This blog is a place where genuine companionship, even intimacy, can exist. And I want to be here.

So for me, right now, blogging doesn't look like "branding" myself. But it does look like making this page a more welcoming space (an "About Me" page and updated profile pic?), and engaging more often and more promptly with the comments you all are so generous with, and hopefully posting more often--inviting people in, asking them to stay awhile, to share a part of my life over tea and knitting, conversing about the wonder and beauty and struggle that is a part of our lives.

So thanks for being here. :)