Resolutions of a different kind: question 2

10 questions continued

2. What were my biggest disappointments? Perhaps a friendship fell apart, or you were passed over for a promotion. Perhaps you didn’t manage to pay off your debts or work out as much as you hoped to. List all of the places life didn’t live up to your hopes and expectations.

I think the main disappointment I can mention is that I didn’t lose the weight I had hoped. During the year I signed up with a personal trainer at my health club and used her for four months. I learned many new exercises, and while I had her I definitely noticed an increase in muscle, especially in my arms, although I think also my back experienced an increase in strength (helped with sitting at work). And I had just started to lose some weight when I quit using her — I had reached the limit of my money. But afterward, the weight loss didn’t really continue.

I don’t know really what happened. I continued to exercise with the different routines she gave me. I don’t THINK I was doing any less. Nor was I eating any more than I had been, as far as I could tell. But I still stopped losing, and during the holidays, of course, I gained a few. (Not much, but even a few is too many when you’re trying to lose.)

So once again, I approach the new year trying to regain my focus on eating right (I’ll discuss the specifics of that later), in smaller amounts but healthily. And I hope to be able to use my personal trainer, or perhaps another for a change of pace, again. I enjoyed having a “cheerleader” there. And it did help with motivation and encouragement. I just wish I had more money to spare for that, but I’m too frugal to do it at this point without having finished paying off my car, for example. But soon, soon, I think, I will try again.

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Intro to projects 11

What’s next?

My brain continues to teem with ideas of things to make. Let me list some to tell you about.

11. fabric brooches
12. embroidery ideas
13. prayer shawl
14. cable scarf
15. quilt for Mom
16. potholders
17. jewelbox quilt
18. preemie sleeper for charity/friends; also need to make a hat — anyone know a pattern?
19. bags
20. yellow dress (muslin first! since the batik dress showed that the sizing is not perfect)
21. winter dresses
22. spinning for sweater
23. Celtic blackwork pattern
24. a shawl with leftover yarn from springtime hat (I need to tell you about that one too.)
25. possibilities for leftovers

I think that is actually all I have going right now. And I must add that many of these are at the idea stage or the collecting of material stage, not the active working-on-it stage. But you see, that’s actually something I’d like to use the blog for, a kind of verbal/visual journal that helps me shape my creative ideas and work out the technical side of the skills needed. Of course, I also want to use it to record my thoughts; sometimes I have too many to just settle down and figure out what I actually think about something until I’ve written it down. And typing is just the right speed.

So, let me get back to the project #11.

This was something I saw and was trying to copy. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of a music fraternity for women, SAI. Well, part of the membership entails the wearing of a small badge that you pin to your clothes in the area of the heart. And if you are awarded some kind of honor, you often get these little connected pins that are supposed to hang off your badge. But each one has it’s own pin that must go through your clothes, and it’s hard to get them to all go on straight, plus that’s a lot of pins to put in. Some ladies have four or five that hang off their badges. They have a right to be proud of these things, but it’s such a nuisance to put them on that some don’t bother. I have a connected pin that names my pledge chapter, but I often don’t wear it for that very reason. So someone came up with the interesting idea of a fabric badge that you pin all the pieces to, and it has a pin of its own, and that’s the only one you have to use to attach it to your clothing. Good for the clothing — less holes, good for the badge and accessories — everything is straight and connected, good for the convenience — one pin, not three or more. I believe that the fabric badges were sold at a fundraiser, and someone had apparently made them. Several of our chapter members had one, and several more wished for one. I decided to try to make them.

At first I thought, oh, it’s just a very small quilt square. Which I believe it is. But then I had this leftover interfacing, very stiff and strong, and it occurred to use that. It wasn’t an iron-on interfacing, so I’ve had to sew on the fabric, and I’ll still need to do edging, which I’m planning on doing in the quilt binding style, unless I can find something better. I’ve done some of them, and, well, let’s just say they are improving. I’ll have to sew the clasps on by hand, of course, but that shouldn’t be hard, just tedious.

This is also using up some old material that I’ve had for a long time and really don’t otherwise have any use for. They are not really my colors anymore, but they are the fraternity’s colors (crimson and white, although the fabric is really more red).

I’m going to take some with me to the next meeting, but I really do want to see one of the already-created ones and see if I’m on the right track. If I get it down pat, I’ll make a whole bunch and make them available for minimal sale to the chapter, and/or send some on to the fundraiser at the national convention this summer. It is to fund charities that we support as a national organization, and I would certainly like to use my fabric skills there.

Maybe the iron-on interfacing will be better next time. I’ll have to consider it. After all, this is not something on the level of heirloom sewing. And while I’m somewhat iffy about using the sticky stuff on anything meant to be truly permanent or long-lasting (I’m just suspicious, not really any reason to be, but I fully intend to be stubborn about it), I’m perfectly willing to consider it for something meant to be useful but not necessarily permanent.

Pictures will come when I have them to share.

Resolutions of a different kind: question 1

I was reflecting on my lack of resolutions for this year — just a few limited goals — when I started reading the Experience Life magazine that I get as part of my health club membership. As magazines go, it’s rather good. Not being much of a magazine reader, the fact that I often read this one almost cover to cover is good sign that I like the articles and info it carries.

This being the first issue of the new year, it obviously had an article on resolutions. I actually found it interesting. So I thought I might use the ten questions it gives in the second section as a way of evaluating my past year and the coming year. It might give me some ideas. So here goes…

10 Questions

1. What did I accomplish in the past year? Did you show up for an important relationship? Achieve a body breakthrough? Conquer a fear? Complete an important task? Establish a healthy new habit? List them all!

Learned a new skill — spinning
Made progress on many craft projects, completed some — dresses completed, finished piecing quilt top, finished castle & island section of cross-stitch and started on dragon, finished tank top sweater, completed felted hat (first time felting) and two sweaters for Xmas gifts, more? Can’t think of any big ones, but were probably some small ones.
Home improvement — replaced front door and screen door, which was desperately needed and I had been planning for over a year.
Responsibilities — added new ministry involvements in audio, worship team, and craft group; accomplished one year as treasurer for music fraternity; received Outstanding on my personnel evaluation at work, so apparently I’m doing good there; achieved a certain degree of completion for guild website.
Other area? Can’t think of any off the top of my head, but then this is more than I realized I had done. I may come back and add them as I think of them.

I’ll address the rest of the questions individually. It does help to realized at least some of what I’ve actually accomplished.

Afghan project, project #10

This one will be a longterm knitting project.

One of my biggest problems is I am often cold. So it seems to me that a warm blanket of wool would be a wonderful addition to my living room. (Of course a quilt would be also, and I am actually planning on using the denim quilt in there as well, but I like variety.) So I got the idea of knitting an afghan for my living room. And then I got the idea — what about using this as a learning experience? Get a bunch of colors in the same kind of wool and then do lots of squares in stitch and purl patterns. (Not colorwork or cable work, at this point. Maybe on the next afghan.) Of course, I need to get one of those stitch dictionaries, but I’m not in a rush about it. There’s plenty of basic stitch patterns out there to begin with.

So the plan? In discussing it with a fellow knitting friend, I decided: each pattern will have its own color, so that a new color starting will indicate a new pattern; I will knit the blocks in varying sizes; I will actually knit a long strip of differing colors/patterns, but the strips can be of differing widths, and when I’ve done enough strips, I will only have strips to sew together.

I started simple: first block is basketweave on 35 stitches. I did approximately 7″ length. Now I’ve switched to a different color and a different stitch: seed stitch. Of course, that is a very plain stitch, so might be good to use that as a connector and not a full block size… maybe.

Next stitch? Something that will fit on 35 stitches.

The yarn I decided on? Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed (85% wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere) in a variety of colors: greens, grays, burgundy, blues, etc. Who knows? Eventually I may use every color available.

In the meantime, let me report on the baby sweater. First thing: I made a mistake in describing it — it’s not a baby cardigan, it’s a pullover sweater with a buttoned placket in front. I still like it, although I didn’t realize I was going to have a pullover. I was worried until I realized the placket was there; in my opinion, all baby clothes should be easy to pull on, and a sweater with no way to widen the neck area for pulling over the baby’s head is a no-go.

Next thing, the color of the Lamb’s Pride Worsted is M-75 Blue Heirloom. Since I’m hoping it will be exactly that — an heirloom, to a minor degree — it seems appropriate. It’s a nice, bright blue to blue-green shade.

And progress? Well, I started it around Dec. 20, 2005. Now, exactly one month later, I have finished the back, front (except for button hole placket, which I’m waiting to finish until I have the actual buttons), and one sleeve. One more sleeve and I’ll be sewing it together. That’s amazingly fast for me. Of course, a thicker yarn and medium-sized needles also make a difference. I tend to go for finer yarns and small needles, so this has been a change.

I should have just enough of the yarn in three skeins, which will be very nice. So, I guess with a little concentration, a baby sweater is a quick knit. I’m rather pleased. And when you consider that I’ve still been working on other things as well, I’m even more pleased. I think as soon as this one is done, I’ll start the baby cardigan that I did copy from that same book. But I’ll think about that next week.

In the meantime, much crafting is happening. But that’s for another post.

Intro to projects 9, or, the right needles

I’ve been working on my second pair of socks (I’m wearing the first pair) and having a bit more problem with this pair. Currently they are on hiatus while I await the correct pair of tools.

See, I have found that with the smaller needles sizes (US3 and below), circular needles don’t really cut it for me. It has to do with the length of the metal part. Because of how I hold them, I like them to be long enough to balance against the outside of my hand, otherwise I hold way too tight, and the smaller sizes of the circular needles are correspondingly shorter in the metal part, at least the Addi Turbos are. I’d be happy to try some others to find out if they are longer so I could try the whole two socks on circular needles thing, but in the meantime… In the meantime, I find that when working on my socks, I need to use the 7-8″ dpns made of metal, which is very limiting. The wooden ones bend too much, or break in my hands in those smaller sizes. What most of the local yarn stores carry is of course the wooden varieties, and maybe the bamboo or plastic version, and one even had the casein types. But do they carry the Skacel steel or Inox aluminum? NO! Oddly, I’ve found at almost every store I’ve checked that they have those sizes in the US0000 and maybe the US000, but then they skip up to US 3, so they don’t carry the sizes I’m looking for, which is the US00, 0, 1, 1.5, and 2. I have been using the Skacel aluminum US1’s that I did find once, but even they are really starting to bend in my hand, which is why I want to try the steel ones.

Anyway, on this current pair of socks, I’ve been having difficulties because I was trying to learn the short row version for socks. So far, I’ve had to do the toe at least twice — or was it three times — and the heel definitely took three tries. I’ve been using the Wildfoote sock yarn, and I think that the US1 is just a little too large for the leg part of the sock. The ribbing feels too loose. So I’ve had to make my first purchase of knitting paraphernalia on the Internet, the only way I was going to find what I want. It’s not a good trend to start — too easy to spend money that way.

On reflection, I think I need to try on the foot part to see if it fits right. That is a prime advantage of this direction of sock.

The pattern is the toe-up pattern found on Wendy Knits. It’s been quite clear. The difficulty has been keeping track of the count. I find that I can recognize where I am by sight only after I’ve seen it in action, probably a few times, so this first time out I need to keep careful count of where I am so as to make sure I get no holes. Not keeping a careful enough count has already resulted in holes and at least one of the heel redos. And I really want more good wool socks.

Ah, well, I need to get to bed. I’m feeling a little cranky due to niggling headache and too much executive board meeting this afternoon.

Obligatory

In line with yesterday’s comments about being contrary, I decided to name this post obligatory because almost everybody does it — the new year’s post. It’s positively traditional, so traditional it’s practically required. Of course, me being contrary means that I feel rebellious about it, so I don’t think you’ll get a long disquisition about the year’s accomplishments or the goals for the new year. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions — don’t believe in them as a good thing. But I do feel a need for reflection. After all, I just spent several days over the new year’s weekend putting all my files in order, and so now I need to organize my thoughts a bit.

So what do I have to say? Hmmm…

It was a good year, 2005. There were some significant things that happened, but even those were fairly minor as things go. I think in a way the biggest thing for me was simply making progress. I made progress in taking care of my house (new front door), I made progress on the crafts I’ve been working on (finished a sweater, made some gifts, finished piecing a quilt top by hand) and added a new one (spinning), I made progress in my life as a librarian (now a whole book cataloguer, soon to add shelflisting as well), I made progress in my life at church by adding a ministry or two that will hopefully stretch my talents (now doing audio work some and also started the life group of crafts), I made progress in some of the goals I have set for my life, though sadly not all of them, and it’s time to review them all to see what comes next.

For this year, do I have any goals? Well, I was reading on Angry Chicken about an idea for some goals for the new year. While I don’t think I will be quite so orderly about it, I do think I will meditate on some ideas like that. For example, one goal for the year is to take one class in at least one of my craft areas to learn something new or improve a skill. There are certainly many options around here, so one way or another I’m going to do it. Another goal would be to attend a crafting retreat of some sort, although that may be more a matter of saving for it than actually doing it this year. Once I’ve reviewed my longterm goals, I will consider precisely what type of goals I want to assign specifically to this year. There will certainly be some!

(Big one — renovate front bathroom! But I’m already working on that one.)

Sadly, I must go get read for bed at this moment, but I’ll certainly return to this topic. Hasta la vista!

Contrary

Sometimes I’m just contrary. This can be both good and bad.

For example, being contrary meant that while growing up, I never felt the urge to follow the crowd. I was different, and that’s the way I wanted to be, and if you tried to push that way, I would quietly dig in my heels and not go. I wouldn’t push back, I just wouldn’t go in the direction I was being pushed. Once the pushing ceased, I might, might, go in that direction, or I might not. When one considers how peer pressure can be such a powerful force on teenagers, this contrariness probably worked to my advantage during those vulnerable years.

On the other hand, being contrary can be, well, a way of denying myself things I might like. For example, the mere fact that John Grisham is such a popular author is plenty of reason for me not to feel like reading him. Maybe one day I’ll pick him up, maybe I won’t. Other times, recommendations actually make me more hesitant to pick up a book rather than less, even when I’ve asked for the recommendation. Of course, I don’t feel that my quality of life is thereby significantly diminished, but it is a more or less bad result of being contrary.

Straight-out bad? Well, I like book clubs, but every time I’ve gotten involved in one, I’ve ended up feeling extremely contrary about actually reading the “assigned” book. Sometimes I’ve forced myself to do so, and it was okay, but a lot of times I’ve found that I really don’t enjoy reading some of them. In the end, I feel pressured, which is not how I like to feel about reading.

Maybe I won’t continue with this book club thing.

But I will definitely continue being contrary.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually do a new year’s posting.