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Well-prepared or Over-packed? March 2, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Knitting, motherhood.
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I’m out for the day with my youngest boy and I know the day will include lots of waiting around on my part. Currently I’m in the waiting area while he’s in an audition for a college music program. Next comes an audition for the theater program at the same school (well, “next” as in two plus hours later).  When that’s dome travel 1.5 hours south to drop him off at rehearsal in downtown Chicago. I’ll meet up with him again at the performance at four and when that’s done I’ll head home

To keep myself occupied I brought along:


– Two books (nonfiction, the kind one reads in bits and pieces, pausing to consider)

– Three knitting projects (one glitten (glove/mitten hybrid)  that just needs the ends sewn in, one glitten that needs mitten cap finished and then a few ends sewn in, and yarn to start a new Wingspan)

– Notebook for writing (there are a few things stirring that need to come out)

– Three pound bag of Cara Cara oranges (it was simpler to grab the bag than just a few oranges)

So, what do you think? Too much? Just enough? Or might I end up at loose ends with nothing to occupy my time?


I have a perfectly good explanation for this February 11, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Creating, Knitting, Monthly Challenge.
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This wasn’t supposed to happen until March.

Wingspan 4On my list of projects to complete in February is “Purple scarf for the silent auction at church in March.” Technically, what I meant by “complete the scarf” was “start and complete the scarf,” I just didn’t add that little detail to the list. The yarn above, although it includes purple, is not the designated purple yarn. That would be this purple yarn, with the flashy silver flecks.

Purple yarn

I took a little trip last week and needed something to knit. I’d started a scarf using the purple yarn a few times and it just wasn’t working. I thought I’d use the yarn in the top picture instead and donate that scarf to the silent auction so I tucked it into my bag, along with needles. Turns out the needles were too small for the scarf I planned to make — it was barely three inches wide. I ripped it out and wondered what could I knit, without a pattern, out of fingering yarn and size 4 needles? A Wingspan, of course!

I couldn’t just sit there drinking coffee all day.

Wingspan February 3, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Creating, Knitting.
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This pattern typifies process knitting for me. It’s all garter stitch (which alone could get very boring) with short rows thrown in for variety. There’s not much counting necessary – every few rows I count “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3” to make sure I haven’t lost, or added, any stitches. I’m very good at counting to three. Plus, the exciting part for me is the self-striping yarn. I love self-striping yarn!

The pattern is Wingspan and I am hooked. If I hadn’t pledged to this month of finishing projects I’ve already started, I would probably have another one cast on by now. Here are the ones I’ve completed

WingspanMade using Lion Brand Amazing yarn (can’t remember the colorway) and was gifted to a friend.

Wingspan2This one was made using souvenir yarn from my trip to Missouri last summer with my youngest (Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic, color 84.0099). I’m keeping this one.

Wingspan - Mary's 2I love Chroma yarn from Knit Picks so much I call it my Happy Yarn. I just love knitting with it. I’ve used both the worsted and fingering and made scarves and mittens. If I was letting myself spend money on yarn this year I’d be ordering some of the new colors that are available. This colorway is New England and it looks like it may have been discontinued. This one is also going to a friend.

My next Wingspan will also be out of Chroma in the Mix Tape colorway. I have two skeins so I’m considering making the triangles a bit bigger. Since I can’t start it until all my February Challenge projects are completed or March 1, whichever comes first, I should stop tempting myself and get busy checking other things off my list.

PS – I apologize for the shadow in the pictures.



















February Challenge – Finish what I’ve started February 1, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Creating, Knitting, Monthly Challenge, Sewing.

In general, artistic people tend to fall into two general categories: process focused and product focused. The product focuses individual creates to obtain the end result. They generally have only one project in process at a time and are very focused on completing it. When at the fabric or yarn store, they are not sidetracked by interesting finds, but buy supplies for a specific project. The process focused individual on the other hand, dives into a project for the love of the craft, be it sewing, knitting, origami or whatever catches her interest. They love learning new skills and trying them out in different ways. Projects that take a weeks or months to finish don’t deter the process focused crafter. This type of crafter feels no obligation to finish one project before starting another… and another… and another.

One peek into my sewing/crafting/yarn storage area will tell you I am most definitely a process crafter. I love planning projects and love trying out new skills. Putting things away in an organized fashion takes time away from starting the next new thing. Some day I want to learn to do it all — crochet, spinning, scrapbooking, stamping, knitting, sewing, quilting, carving, soapmaking, silk dying, jewelry making, and more and more. I can do some of the things on that list now, others are “some day” projects.

Too often I move on to the next project before I finish the current one. This means I have plenty of partially completed projects in various stages pining away for my attention. (I recently unearthed a box in my garage with sewing projects cut out and ready to go including a pair of size 6x pants for my youngest son. Currently he is six weeks shy of his 18th birthday and 6’5″ and still growing. That one’s been sitting a while.)

February is the month I complete as many of those projects as possible.

This list is created without checking to find everything in process. I’m sure more could be added but this will certainly keep me busy.

Mending – I admit, mending is not exciting. It’s a necessary, if boring, evil. Some of these items have been waiting for a restored life for longer than I care to admit:

  • 2 Pair dress pants with ripped out hems (double sided hem tape to the rescue)
  • 1 Dress with ties with one tie ripped off. I need to decide if I will replace the tie or alter the dress to remove the ties. It also needs to be shortened.
  • Replace lining in my winter coat (I bought the fabric at the beginning of last winter)
  • J’s favorite pants have been waiting to be patched for so long I made him try them on recently to verify they still fit. They do and he still loves them so I really should fix them.


  • Glittens (Glove-Mitten hybrids – fingerless gloves with a mitten cap) for a friend. Both gloves are finished, I need to knit the mitten cap and sew in all the ends (my least favorite part).
  • Glittens for me. These also have the gloves finished and are waiting for the mitten cap
  • Purple scarf for the silent auction at church in March


  • Shop Hop Quilt Top – I almost finished this last weekend but I ran out of thread in my bobbin and knew I had more wound but couldn’t find them. I just want to get the middle blocks sewn together and then it will be set aside because I have no ideas yet for borders or backing
  • Super Secret Quilt – group project for a friend. The top is about 75% finished and the backing and binding fabrics picked out. The biggest challenge here is the actual quilting.


  • 6 Pair Pajama Pants. These were planned as Christmas presents for my kids (and me) but I couldn’t give them cut out pieces of flannel with nothing sewn together. Maybe they’ll turn into Valentine gits. (Kids, if you’re reading this, pretend to be surprised when you receive a package in the mail.)
  • There is that box of already cut out projects I mentioned above but I’m in no rush to dig in to that. Those projects have already waited what, ten years or more? They can wait a little longer. Everything except for the kid pants was for me and I’m not sure they’ll fit or be in style.

Bonus Project – I’ve been eyeing this tutorial to make myself a new purse for a few months. I know what fabric I want to use for the outside and I think I know what I want to use for the lining. Since this project is still in the planning stage and not the “in process” stage, it doesn’t really count as “completing what I’ve started”. It will need to wait until a good chunk of the projects above are completed, or ideally, all of them.

February only has 28 days and I listed 16 projects above. I’ll keep you posted on my status.

My Day January 13, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Kids, Knitting, life, teens.
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Today this happened

PadKeeMaoTofu Pad Kee Mao at Siam Cafe. Every time I go there I think I should try something new but when I do, I always wish I got Pad Kee Mao instead. So I stuck with what I know I love. Of course we had our favorite Sticky Rice with Ginger Garlic Sauce as an appetizer. Lucky me! I have leftovers in the fridge!

And this happened

ShoppingBagNew shoes from Target. (“What? You want to take a picture of my shopping bag? Why would you want to do that? OK. Whatever…”)

My companion for the day


Claims that we weren’t really here

TheVoiceAudition“Um, mom, why are you taking that picture. You aren’t going to put that on Facebook are you?”

Nope, not Facebook…

But if we weren’t there, waiting for hours and hours and hours, where did I find all the time to do this?

MittenWhen I started the day it was just sticks and string and now look, it’s almost a mitten… or a glove… or maybe both. (I really need to learn to take better pictures of my knitting.)

I think we had a great day.


2013 Bucket List January 4, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Bucket List, Creating, Knitting, New Years.
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I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Overall they seem like a negative thing, like I’m defining the person I think I should be instead of being the one I already am. I refuse to make a list of goals I’ll never meet. Making that list seems like an excellent way to feel bad about myself and think I’m a failure. Is there anyone who honestly keeps their Resolutions?

Instead I’m making a 2013 Bucket List. These are all things I want to do or learn. The Bucket List is simply a way to keep track of them and help make sure I make some progress over the year.

  1. Learn to make delicious Gluten Free Sandwich Bread. I’ve been GF for two years now. The first year my focus was on cleaning up my diet and finding replacements as appropriate. The next year I tried and was successful with some great baking recipes. The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares in Gluten Free on a Shoestring is so delicious even my wheat-eating co-workers ask me to bring it on food days. I’ve made some acceptable cookies and awesome cobbler. But so far sandwich bread that tastes remotely like “real” bread has eluded me. This year, I’ll figure it out.
  2. Spin enough yarn to make something and then make that something. June 2011 I took a drop spindle class and absolutely loved it. The magic of knitting — using sticks and string to make something useful and/or beautiful — amazes me. Now I can take wool and turn that into string and then make something beautiful! Except I haven’t followed through with that. I’ve purchased some roving to play with but it hasn’t come near my spindle. This year, it will happen.
  3. Get a Passport. I don’t have plans to go anywhere (yet) but I want to be ready when the opportunity arises. A Passport is the first step on an unknown adventure.
  4. Attend WI-UMW School of Missions. I was able to go last year and it was life changing. I loved the classes and making connections with other like-minded women in my state. I’m making going again this year a priority and hope to drag some other women from church along with me.

There are definitely more things I plan to do in 2013 — I have long lists of projects to do, places to go, people to see — but nothing else I feel strongly enough to commit to publishing. It’s going to be an exciting year!


Knitting Progress June 1, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, Knitting.

I learned to knit about five years ago and from the beginning I’ve dreamed about knitting socks. I love the pretty yarns. I love the pretty patterns. I love the idea of wearing a little something I made on my feet. I even love the thought that they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (weird, I know). But I didn’t make any.

I collected yarn and itty, bitty needles and tried a few times but I wasn’t successful. The results were way too big, or way too small or too tight or too loose or just Not Right. Downright unsatisfactory. Until now:

I am so happy I could burst. There is something absolutely magic about knitting — One can take sticks and string and turn them into something useful and beautiful. I’m slightly amazed every time it works.

Of course, the process wasn’t without a few bumps in the road. The first was getting comfortable and skilled enough as a knitter. Comfortable is the key word here — often there is a gap between what we know how to do and how comfortable and confident we are doing what we know. Then I had to find the right yarn and the right pattern. If you aren’t a knitter, you would be amazed by the number of choices out there!

In February I received the yarn in a swap sponsored by a knitting e-mail list where I’m a member. At first I tried to turn the yarn into a scarf but it wasn’t willing. I liked the colors and the pattern, but the resulting fabric was too unyielding. A scarf, especially one that is a little lacy, should be flowing not stiff.

The next challenge was to find a pattern. I didn’t want something too plain and also not too challenging. Size was an issue as I have larger than average size feet. Many of the cute women’s sock patterns I found didn’t come in my size and I wasn’t about to adapt something on my first try. I finally settled on this one. I love the patterns on this site but this is the first one I purchased. I found it easy to read and follow and I’m sure I’ll purchase more in the future (her scarves and shawls are especially beautiful).

One sock was finished except for sewing closed the toe when I thought to weigh the sock and remaining yarn. Good thing as I was running a little bit short! The finished sock weighed 52 grams and the remaining yarn only 49 grams. I decided to rip back the toe and find a complementary yarn to finish off the socks. I tried a few solid yarns and, even though they matched one of the colors in the body of the sock, the contrast was just too glaring. In the end, I used a complimentary color and alternated rows with the main yarn. I think it turned out pretty well. Almost as though it was planned that way.

Actual knitting time, from beginning to end was about three months. Of course, I am not a monogamous knitter. I often have a few small projects at hand and am occasionally playing around with new ones. When a project frustrates me, it may find itself in a ‘time out’ while I ponder how to solve the problem. That happened when I ran into the problem of the toes and thought through a solution. Also, the bulk of my knitting time comes during my commute on the train and my attention was also captured by a few books during this time.

I’ll definitely be doing this again and have already chosen the next yarn (Sock #3 here). As this yarn has a lot more color action going on, I think I’ll use a plainer pattern.

Now, if Summer can just get out of the way, I have new, warm socks to break in!