A Little Mending

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A Little Mending

Quite some time back I knit Jacob a Hugo sweater. The pattern is by Veronik Avery and I knit it in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, the recommended yarn. I've made my opinions of Shelter pretty well known - I love that shit. It's soft, it's light, it's warm, it's rustic, it's ethically produced by a company that brings a lot to the yarn world (It's pricy, and there are other, cheaper options, but.... eh. The colours are perfection). Thing is, though, it's a woollen spun yarn. It's a production method that creates all the lovely above mentioned traits, but it comes at the cost of durability. 

So what I'm saying is Jake's beautiful sweater sprung a hole. Apparently he's got some pointy elbows and one of them tried to make an exit through the back of the sleeve. I didn't have any of the yarn left, so rather than darning, I had to patch. Luckily, elbow patches are a thing!

I started by needle felting a bit of wool over the hole, to stop any future ravelling. Then it was just a matter of sewing some pre made faux suede patches on (I did want them to be somewhat washable, so fake seemed like a good plan). Honestly the hardest part was getting them in the same place on both sleeves.

That, and taking pictures. "Look normal, but show me both of your elbows at the same time!" is not actually a thing. Also, why doesn't the dog laugh at my jokes? Hopefully now that this stress point is reinforced, he'll have years of wear left in this sweater, with bonus old man flair.

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Everything I Make is Neon

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Everything I Make is Neon

I really like bright colours conceptually, but for everyday wear I prefer subdued shades and neutrals. You wouldn't know that from my recent creative output! It's neon madness up in here.

First I finished some handspun, which is a big damn deal. I haven't finished a skein in almost a year. The fibre was Polwarth wool from Spun Right Round, in a fabulously crazy colourway called Picnic. Out of approximately 8 ounces I got 409 metres (477 yards) of DK to worsted weight chain-plied stripy neon goodness. It feels nice to have something finished, and Polwarth is spectacular to work with. I'm thinking about maybe striping it with some pale grey merino and an accent of sparkly white (both currently in fluffy unspun form) as a couch throw/lap blanket thing. We'll see.

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The neon continues in a long lingering sock project that became my rather neglected purse knitting. They were mostly worked on at knit nights and over the Christmas break. Top down, heel flap, no-fuss-no-bother vanilla socks are great for that sort of thing. It helps that they are unparalleled in their colourful cheeriness. The yarn is the ever popular Regia Fluormania.

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For a little neon nightcap, may I present my latest food preservation attempt - picked red onions. It's about the easiest recipe ever - I made them (like literally every step of the process) in the 10 minutes it took for a pizza to cook. They are tart, sweet, slightly spicy, and all around heavenly, if pickles are your thing. Pickles are very my thing, especially if they are neon pink. Also these ones feature one of my favourite cooking chemistry surprises - blue garlic. I love a good contrast colour!

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All that neon is exhausting. I'm ready for some grey. Maybe navy. Taupe even.

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Adventure is in the Eye of the Beholder

I'm a little behind in showing this off, but I figured I had better do so before the warm weather hit and it was no longer even remotely seasonally appropriate.

This fall I completed my most adventurous knit yet, not that you would ever know to look at it.

The yarn is a handspun worsted weight gradient set I made from various local wools. One of them I even processed from raw fleece. Handspun isn't a real adventure for me at this point in my woolly career though (unless you count the dark grey batts from the farm that shall not be named, which had dead ticks in it. THAT took bravery to spin), and It's all in boring natural colours.

The pattern, Roslyn by Veronik Avery, is a bottom up raglan and all in stockinette, with a few short forays into 2x2 ribbing. Easy peasy.

But it's a (short!) dress. That is to be worn without pants. With a big ol' turtleneck on the top. I was so worried that I'd finish it and put it on and look like a dumpy, sad, sepia toned stand-in for Velma from Scooby Doo. It has a turtleneck, and I've always hated how I look in turtlenecks. 

Don't google image search Velma with safe-search off by the way. Speaking of adventurous, she has some really... enthusiastic fans out there. 

But I loved the style on the model, and my husband assured me about a thousand times that I could pull it off. I had to trust that I could wear a slightly unusual knit with confidence, and that I could successfully get a good fit around my hips, which I have never knit for before. And then I had to trust that if I wore it outside, I wouldn't be laughed at, doomed to hide in mortification all day.

It turned out awesome. It's cozy and woolly and wonderful, and manages to look both incredibly hand made, and pretty damn chic. It's like wearing an (itchy) comfort blanket. Sometimes knitting outside your comfort zone really pays off.

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2017 Goals: Live for the Future

So I set my goals in January, but... busy happened. You know the feeling, I'm sure. I have so many life goals this year and relatively few crafting goals; we're entering into navel gazing territory, so proceed at your own risk.

Are you a fan of the Meyers Briggs personality test? I like it as an evidence based horoscope and as a springboard for discussion of the ways people are similar, or different. I test very strongly as an INTJ. Some say that makes me a cold, clever Sherlockian (Moriartian?) analyzer of people and situations, prioritizing facts and logic over emotions, traditions, and hierarchies. I'm cool with being a super-villain (or as I was labelled recently a "Very Dominant Woman"- it was supposed to be an insult!). In practice, though, I'm a reasonably nice person who lives in an extreme state of constant internal and external evaluation. Who am I, really? What do I actually want? What is really true? How could we do better? How will every single choice affect my long term plans and the success of my short term projects? What would I do in this situation if everybody could just STOP FEELING STUPID FEELINGS AND THINK CLEARLY INSTEAD? Deep breath...

... and so, in many ways, my goal setting reflects that thought process. I have heard so many times that to be truly happy one must live in the present, feeling the joy of the moment. My cold INTJ brain hates that. Joy may be experienced in the present, but it is crafted on the choices of the past, and I can't ignore that I am building future moments of joy--or sadness--with the actions I take right now. Experiences are cumulative, and I like living in the future. It's comforting. 

Family: Last year we faced both sickness and death in my family, and it made me realize that I need to focus more on making memories, active parenting, and meaningful moments.

  1. Go camping (or some other form of cheap, calm vacationing) on spring and summer weekends.
  2. Teach Rei age-appropriate cooking skills, and how to ride a bike.
  3. Invite friends and family into my home more often.
  4. Go camping with the in-laws this summer.
  5. Have my wedding ring remade (it's too big and I haven't worn it in nearly 2 years).

Home: Both the making and maintaining.

  1. Paint the house during warm season, clean carpets in spring and fall
  2. Keep up bullet-journal-style daily organization tools (I've been using Evernote for this rather than a physical journal; so far so good).
  3. Learn to use cast iron cooking tools effectively.
  4. Reduce environmental impact.

Health and Wealth: paired because they rhyme...

  1. Maintain health like a goddamned adult- weight control, good sleep habits, flu vaccinations, I probably need a tetanus booster, dentist appointments...
  2. Visit the eye doctor, and do what they say. It's time to accept that maybe the generalized blurriness I'm experiencing is me, and not the breakdown of reality.
  3. Bike rather than drive, whenever and wherever possible!
  4. Save approximately 35% of our gross income towards a house down payment. This is... not easy. Which is to say fucking difficult. Focus on reducing spending on clothing, food, and non-essentials.
  5. Improve the entire family's financial literacy. For me this means monitoring and improving credit reports, planning cash flow, and learning about investments and mortgages.
  6. Explore (soft) minimalism by reducing clutter and accumulation (physically and emotionally) and by focusing on what really matters to me.

Fun: The crafting related goals, at last!

  1. Reduce stash guilt by only purchasing supplies for planned, imminent projects.
  2. Focus on craftsmanship, detail, fit, and durability over speed and productivity. Quality over quantity is the name of the game here.
  3. Put more time into spinning, aiming for lovely, useful yarn.
  4. Weave a blanket from handspun.
  5. Return to knitting pattern design!

So there you have it! I think I went for a more-is-more goal setting approach this year, we'll see if that pans out. I hope you're having success in building your future, even if you prefer to live in the present like a normal, sensible person.

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2016 Recap: Well, I Made it Out the Other Side.

Hello!

Normally I recap my previous year's goals in January, and then set new ones for the coming year, and off I go about my merry way. I recognize that it is February. Welcome to the theme of my 2016.

2016 was really fucking difficult, and not just because we were subjected to the US election. It was the year I went back to work after 6 years as a stay at home mum. The year that job turned out to be an increasingly toxic and depressing environment, so I made a risky play and ended up running the company, working overtime literally every day since. It was the year my hubby beat cancer. It was the year my dad did not beat cancer.

So now I'm a workaholic and I really miss my dad. I totally lost myself for a couple months at a time, a couple of times. Cumulatively it was a lot of months. But I'm still here. My job is awesome now. My family is tough and we have all found strength and positivity in difficult times.

I am here on the other side, and I am ready to try again. 

So. How did all of that affect the plans I made before shit got real? The life goals were:

  1. Reach and maintain a healthy BMI.
    • After well over a year of carefully monitoring my food intake and exercise, I hit this goal last spring. My total weight loss came to about 140 pounds. The story is a lot more complicated than all that, and I'll get around to sharing it some time, because I think the world needs a more nuanced, honest approach to the entire concept of weight loss. All that aside, I am proud of myself.
  2. Get a job.
    • Heck yes I did. I went from hanging off the bottom of the ladder at my husband's office to sharing the running of the business with him. I admit, the relationship probably got me the job (I was hella qualified, but it's nice to have an in), but I have been kicking ass on my own merits from then on. I now focus on HR, accounting, marketing, and client satisfaction. Weird. Not the sort of work I thought I would enjoy, but I do!
  3. Contribute to savings regularly, to the tune of at least $10k.
    • Crowing about money is rather gauche, so I will just say that I exceeded this goal and we are slowly working towards one day being able to own our own home.
  4. Paint the house.
    • No. Not even one wall. Not even a little bit.
  5. Read more, in print and audio.
    • There was more reading than painting, but not an appreciable amount. I'm rather sad about that.
  6. Get comfortable enough on my bike to use it for regular transportation, then do so.
    • I LOVE my bike. I've lost the habit a bit in the recent snow and ice (snow is sharp when it's flying directly into your eyeballs), but I've started using it as my main mode of transportation to and from work and on short errands. It works wonders for my cardiovascular health, and it's fun, and I feel like a little less of an eco-hypocrite.
  7. Take more photos.
    • Take, yes! Sort and catalogue? I'll get to it...
  8. Have more music in my home.
    • Thanks to Spotify, a consolidated iTunes library, and a portable bluetooth speaker, our house is a more cheerful place. I love having music back in my daily life.
  9. Take real vacations.
    • We were kinda busy, you know? But we did actually get away for a wonderful long weekend in Tofino and it was glorious.

How about those creative goals?

  1. Release four or more knitting patterns.
    • Oh dear god no. Hahahaha... No.
  2. Revive this blog and post regularly.
    • I killed and resuscitated it several times! So, no. Not really. Ah well.
  3. Knit sweaters for ME.
    • I did! I was going to lament that I only made four, but that would be silly. Despite everything that went on, I made myself four really great sweaters! And a knitted dress (I'll show you later)! Well done, me!
  4. Reduce yarn, fibre and fabric stashes.
    • I did, in all three arenas. I've been doing my best to work from my yarn stash almost exclusively. The fibre... well I only spun a skein and a half, but I kept my purchasing in check accordingly. I certainly bought new fabric, but I've used up lots of old stuff whether in in finished garments or muslins for fit testing.
  5. Finish Rei's cross stitched stocking.
    • This is the last time you will see this stupid, stupid goal. Not because I finished it, but because the dog literally ate it. At the time I didn't know whether to feel angry or relieved, but I've made my peace.
  6. Buy/make only indie sewing patterns, try new designers.
    • Success! This goal wasn't terribly hard as there are so many talented designers out there. I tried out Cloth Habit and Deer and Doe patterns to great success, and while I am not going to limit myself quite this much in the future, I will always shop indie first. This was a great experience.
  7. Thrift or make 80% of my new clothes, not including undergarments.
    • Partial success! I achieved about 70% make/thrift to new item purchases, and considering that included another weight-loss-related wardrobe replacement, I am damn proud. I found some absolute gems at the thrift store, and I made some really cool things, including a bathing suit! I adore my pre-loved and handmade clothes, and I'm a lot more attached to them because they took a little more work to obtain.

So there you have it. I'm not going to enumerate successes versus failures this year. It was a success. Hands down. I can tell because I was there and saw myself surviving the shit out of 2016.

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