Monday, November 30, 2009

The Timing Is Never Right

I've been hearing over and over again lately, "The timing is just not right for..." You fill in the blank. Sometimes it's making an awkward phone call, sometimes it's losing something valuable (or even not so valuable), sometimes it's a broken dish or a burnt meal. For our family, it was the loss of a beloved aunt just before Thanksgiving. Susan, my husband's aunt, and I had become quite close, especially since I've been able to lunch with her often now that I'm home with my kids.

She was the kind of person that never forgot a birthday(even her great-nephew's and great-niece's), always was excited to see you, always loved a great laugh, always took the time to talk, always told you how much she loved you. She was a person I always knew I could count on, always knew I could get an honest opinion, always wanted in my corner, and always wanted to see.

She's the kind of person that if I said "the timing just wasn't right" she would have responded, "Yes, that may be true. But what's done is done, what are you going to do about it now?" Instead of finding the lemons in a glass of lemonade, she always tried to help me make lemonade out of life's lemons. For her, timing was all perspective. For Susan, God's timing was perfect, even though she couldn't always make heads or tails of it.

Now, I've come to realize that though her death was too early (she was just 59) and the timing wasn't perfect, in God's great plan the timing was more than perfect. Every future Thanksgiving will come with some sadness but with great thanks for the family we are still able to celebrate with. Every Thanksgiving will remind me that those around me are each unique, each special, and put in my life to love. God has shown me that tomorrow may not look the same as today, so make some lemonade, share it with friends and family, love and enjoy it, and give thanks for those whom we are blessed to live life with.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I've Found My Knitting Muse

Do you ever go in waves where sometimes you're knitting like Armageddon is tomorrow and other times you can hardly look at your stash let alone pick up some needles? If you don't, well, you're the envy of all knitters and your LYS should thank their lucky stars they receive your constant support!

I, on the other hand, am not so blessed (and I like to believe I'm normal in this respect). I have these knitting bipolar moments quite frequently - one minute I'm hot and the next I'm not. But, I think I've finally found a cure to my knitting doldrums. I've discovered my knitting muse. No, I'm not pulling your leg. I'm being completely serious.

However, my muse doesn't look like a Greek goddess...oh, it's far from that. My muse is not even a living being, sorry hubby. My muse, oh, sweet muse, is the mall. Every time I go shopping I wander the pathways of Macy's, Banana Republic, Express, GAP, whatever and every scarf or glove or hat or sweater I see I think, "They want how much for that! You've got to be kidding me! I could totally knit that no sweat." So, after a few hours of perusing, I'm inspired to go home and get my needles movin'! Have you noticed how you go to the mall and they want $70 for a cable sweater that feels like it was knit with yarn one would give to their cat as a toy? Then, you go to Target and they want $10 for a scarf and I get all angry because that kind of low-balling completely destroys the hand knit market. Well, that's another topic for another day.

Back to my muse. I'm so lucky I don't shop with my eyes closed or else I'd spend a fortune because after a while, us knitters can feel the minute differences between quality yarn and cheap, mass-produced fibers that are only out there to make a yearly profit, not to last 4 seasons. The only good thing about going sweater shopping at the mall instead my favorite knitting magazine is that I can get some fabulous inspirations for stitch patterns, pattern combinations and style and fit. Since I've been home (less than 36 hours) I've finished one project, tentatively designed my next project and have begun the new design. It's amazing what I can accomplish after a few hours at my local Macy's.

Do you have a knitting muse? I know you do. Don't lie. If you're feeling "out of the mood" to knit, what do you do to snap yourself back to reality? Come on, share know you want to!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do You Remember When...?

Do you remember who taught you to knit? I do and I can see the scene like it was this morning (don't ask me about yesterday because anything longer than 24 hours ago is a foggy haze). Before I divulge the juicy details, you've gotta hear about my most recent experience.

I recently finished a series called "Learn to Knit!" (I know, -1 points for creativity, don't shoot me) on a website geared towards moms called The site itself is run through The Modesto Bee and covers any topic moms could wish to learn about. From breastfeeding to home organizing to hobbies, if you're a mom it's a hot place to be.

Each week I would write a guest blog post describing in detail where and how to hold your needles and wrap your yarn to achieve all the great techniques that make up the foundation of knitting...the slip knot, casting on, knitting and purling, slipping stitches, increasing and decreasing, specialty stitches and simple stitch patterns. In fact, my Textured Simplicity Knit Scarf was a project designed specifically with this series in mind as I taught all the techniques used in it and I designed it with the beginner in mind.

So, every Monday (makes since I would blog on Mondays, huh?) I would quickly put my children to bed and, half-running, make my way to my living room/knitting studio. There I would sit criss-cross, applesauce, my camera afixed to a tri-pod and positioned "just so," needles and yarn expertly held in my deft fingers. Then, I'd gently remove a finger to hit the timer button and frantically try to put the needles and yarn back into place before the shutter released. Needless to say, at the end of a 1/2 hour photo shoot (hey, throw a a bone! I like to use professional lingo because it makes me feel more professional), my back ached, my fingers felt frozen in a crooked, twisted mess and my eyebrows were wrenched together as I peered intently at the LCD screen to make sure the shots were clear and precise.

After the shoot, videos were recorded and it was all uploaded. The blog was painstakingly written in step-by-step detail. Still shots were imbedded and links to my video tutorials were created. That said, after 2-3 hours, my posts were published. I would arch back, stretch my arms up, think to myself, "Aah, now I can relax!" and then it would happen...a little voice from down the hall, "Mom, may I please get up, now!" Well, so much for relaxing.

Each week, as I prepped and wrote, shot photos and videos and published my hard work, I'd think how easy I had it when I learned to knit. I was sitting in my sister-in-laws house at a family celebration and my other sister-in-law had just learned to knit and was working on a scarf. I didn't have to ask her twice to show me how to make the knit stitch. She planted a seed in my life and with a little watering, it has blossomed into a gorgeous bloom that brings me lasting enjoyment. For me, it was so easy because I had someone in my life who taught me. I wonder how many women in our lives need something like knitting and they don't even know it. Have you offered to teach anyone lately? Don't try to discard the notion with horrible ideas like, "I couldn't teach anyone to knit!" or "She'd never want to learn." You never know if you don't ask.

I know each of us has a story. Someone taught us to knit. Some of us have had the pleasure to teach someone to knit. Comment below and share your inspiring stories. Encourage us with your experience!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yarntasting Success!

Have you ever heard of a Yarntasting? If you haven't, check it out! Artfibers, an LYS in Pinole, CA offers a program called Yarntasting where they send you over 170 samples of their yarn with enough of each sample to knit multiple swatches. You invite a bunch of people over, knit with tons of gorgeous yarns and then buy what you want! Plus, when you buy, you don't buy skeins or hanks or balls, just the amount of yardage you need!

So, I just co-hosted a Yarntasting at my friend's house and it was great. We ended up with less people than expected (drat, it's flu season again!) but that meant more yarn for the rest of us! The sample kits were gorgeous with silks, synthetics, wools and cottons ranging from solid primary colors to incredible painted yarns in an array of dazzling colors that was like seeing a rainbow up close.

My friends (new and old), cozied up with a glass of wine or a cup of cider and had a great time working with the yarn, watching others swatches, comparing colorways and laughing all the while! Being able to handle yarn before you buy is an ingenious way of marketing product. Now, instead of relying on someone else's word, I know first hand how their different weights knit up. I know how their yarn feels on my needles and in my hands. This program is exactly the yarn-shopping solution I was searching for when I wrote Spend Your Money Where It Counts...On Yarn!

Bravo to Rox and Artfibers for creating this program for those of us who live too far to easily come to your store! Thank you to all the gals that came to the event...knitting with friends is infinitely more enjoyable than knitting alone. Thank you to my hubby who supports my addiction to yarn with a smile on his face!

Tell me your thoughts on Yarntastings. Have you been to one? Would you go to one? What would make or break an event for you?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall, Fireplaces, Falling Leaves and Knitting

I love the fall season. First, my birthday happens to be in the fall so of course I think it's the ultimate best time of year. More than my birthday...especially now that I'm in my last year of being in my 20's, I love fall for its colors, its vibrancy, the feel of anticipation of the upcoming holiday season. I love watching my children play in the leaves and carve pumpkins! I salivate, seriously, at the thought of delicious soups, roasts, pies and potatos! Have you noticed that everyone seems to be in a good mood in the fall? Where I live, we've finally moved on from 105 F days and nights where your air conditioning is on for 8 of 9 hours. People are beginning new school years, new soccer teams, there's a atmosphere of new beginnings that permeates the air.

In the mornings, I feel so snuggly in bed with my beloved beagle curled up next to me, his head on my husbands pillow, snoring softly. I just don't want to get up! I love that crispness that you can see and smell and feel when you step out to get the paper. I love that my hot coffee warms my body instead of making me sweat. But most of all, I love the fall because I can finally curl up in front of a real fire (sorry, not a fan of fake fire inserts), my dog snuggling against my legs, and knit away. Add a glass of wine and a foot-massage by dear hubby and I will swear that I've died and gone to heaven!

If you could envision your knitting heaven on earth, what would it be? Is it taking your yarn and sticks and enjoying the fresh, spring sunshine under a newly-blossoming tree? Is it sitting by the pool with a cool glass of iced tea while your kids laugh and splash? Is it curling up in rocking chair while snow falls gently to the ground outside and the Christmas ham is filling the home with its sweet honey-glazed aroma? Do tell!