Thursday, 6 March 2014

March 9 Random Act of Kindness Day for Thomas

When our son died almost nine years ago (I still can't believe it will be nine whole years on March 10--it's an unfathomably long time to be missing your baby), we asked people to do something kind in his honour. Over the years that has become our way of celebrating, remembering, mourning and loving our boy on his birthday.

He lived 20 precious hours that spanned two days. We prefer to mark the one in which his sweet soul entered the world and changed it forever, not the day he slipped back to heaven. Both are equally important, of course. Those two days bookend his short life. But celebrating his birthday is something we would have done with balloons, presents, cake and pictures every year if he'd lived, so it feels right to make March 9 the day we ask people to fill their corner of the world with love, light,  kindness and joy.

The goal is, of course, to send ripples of kindness into eternity. Just because Thomas was once here.

If you're so inclined, please join us. We have an official Facebook event set up if you want more information (there are currently close to 1500 people registered to participate!). But it's pretty simple: all you have to do is keep your eyes open for ways to make the world a little nicer on Sunday March 9. It can be free and take just seconds, but make no mistake--it will change someone's world.

Just like Thomas changed ours.

So I've been knitting up some RAKs (which makes them not particularly random, but that's neither here nor there) in the form of baby hats for Vita Manor, a local centre for pregnant and parenting youth.

Knitting is, as we've discussed, not my best sport. Knitting with double pointed needles? Still a little bit torturous, if I'm honest. It's akin to the feeling you get when you're watching a horror movie: you're always aware that something could go very, very wrong at any moment and you're relieved when it's all over.

I think the crux of the problem is that with crochet you're always working with just one stitch. With knitting you're working with dozens. With double pointed needles you're working with dozens of stitches dangling dangerously from multiple sticks. It's madness, I tell you, madness!

And it pokes at the OCD in me.

But I found a simple, sweet pattern in the Leisure Arts book Warm Hats for Wee Noggins that works up pretty quickly, so I've been carefully knitting away with multiple sticks for the past couple of weeks. And fretting about losing stitches and just waiting for it all to end..only to start again because as it turns out it's kind of addictive.

I mean really, look at this nonsense...

But Thomas is definitely worth the effort of trying wrangle that yarn and master those sticks. 

He is always worth it.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Where IS that lottery win?!

Okay then, now that all that work has been taken care of (and before it starts again--love that freelance roller coaster), a new blog post!

When I win the lottery, I will write for fun. And I will play with yarn as much as I want to without ever feeling guilty for playing with yarn because I think I should be doing something more productive else.

In the meantime, I write to pay the bills. And I play with yarn as often as I can, usually while I'm watching television in the evening when I'm too tired to be doing something more productive else.

Plus, since it has turned into a mind and body-numbing arctic tundra out there, firmly planting myself on the couch after dark, although perhaps not the healthiest choice--says my seizing joints and expanding waistline--is the warmest and coziest option. Add yarn, a fire, a couple of cats, and a husband and you have all the ingredients for one of my most favourite ways to pass the time on a cold, wintery night.

So while I haven't been blogging about it, I have actually managed to complete a few projects in between the work I wish a lottery win meant I didn't actually ever have to do.

First, there was the companion hat for the shimmery hearts scarf:

I have to admit, I fudged my way through part of this pattern from Annie's Attic Chemo Caps & Wraps. I managed to get almost all the way to the band without a problem, but I got mixed up right after the two rows of shells and just kind of guessed for a little while. It was really just a matter of trying to figure out how many hdcs to add after the shell row. Nothing too serious.

I love it paired with the scarf, and I'll be donating them both to my local hospital's cancer centre as a set.

Then there was this "Ugly Ducking" a friend requested as a shower gift for her friend:

I've made this a couple of times before and wasn't particularly excited about making it again (I despise repeating things, which is why slippers are such a chore and why I've never even attempted socks. If you ever get either from me it means I love you--a lot), but I'd forgotten how quick this little duckie works up. I made him over the course of two or three days and actually enjoyed it.

Although to be clear,  I have no interest in making him again anytime soon.

The only change I made was to skip the lower part of his bill. To me the poor duck looks like Rocky after being pummeled by Apollo Creed when you add the the lower part of the bill, so I just omit it and slightly curve the part of the bill I do make. I think he looks cute and a little pouty like this. Way better than beaten up and slightly swollen.

I also put together a comfort blankie for a local little girl battling cancer. A few members of my chemo cap & infant loss item group submitted the squares and I sewed them together and added a border.

I have no idea where they got the patterns for the squares so I can't link to them, but I can say that I'm amazed at the magic that went into this blanket. There was no planning or coordination beyond deciding upon a rough size for each square--and yet it works. A perfect hodgepodge of colours, patterns, styles and yarns combined to create what I think is an absolutely adorable blanket that I hope will give its intended recipient some much-needed comfort and warmth while she continues her valiant fight.

I still haven't finished the cardigan I blogged about back on January 1st. It's a WIP that has found itself buried under quicker, more colourful projects, poor thing. I'll drag it out again eventually, but from the looks of things (and by that I mean at least four inches of fresh snow), I needn't be concerned that it's going to warm up and make sweater-wearing unpleasant anytime soon.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

With gratitude

Lately I've been making a concerted effort to keep a running tally of things I'm grateful for in my head. It's all too easy for me to focus on sad/bad/scary things (even things that haven't happened and probably never will--I'm especially good at focusing on those sorts of things), and forget that despite the sorrow and trials, there are some pretty good things happening in my life on any given day.

Granted, sometimes those things are small, but good is good.

So at night while I'm in bed trying to fall asleep, I make a mental note of all the things I'm grateful for. It's particularly fabulous if I can think of things that happened in the preceding 24 hours, but that's not a hard and firm requirement.

I make up the rules, after all.

I kind of wish I was one of those people who had to struggle to see the bad, but I'm not. Bad leaps out at me all the time, while I play hide-and-seek with good. But the interesting thing is, focusing on gratitude is making it easier for me to spot it on a more regular basis.

And that's good. Good! Yay!

Take this "Shimmery Hearts Scarf" from Red Heart, for example...
Right after I took this picture I had to pull it all out right down to the first row because I'd made a mistake.

Okay, there's nothing actually good in that at all, except that I didn't get too far before discovering the mistake.

The thing I'm very grateful for happened much later in the process. I thought I had more than enough yarn to complete the scarf (I used Caron Simply Soft Eco, which is made with 20% post-consumer recycled polyester--one scarf keeps one bottle out of landfills!), but my skein ended a little more than halfway through the border.

I'd mined the skein from my stash and I was pretty sure there was only one of them, but after a quick search through the piles I was rewarded with another full skein! More than enough to finish the scarf and make a companion hat.

I could have used any colour to complete the border, but I'm grateful (see what I did there?) that I found enough of the same yarn to complete the scarf the way I'd envisioned it. Just like this:
Note: the colour is actually truer in the first picture.
I'm going to donate the hat and scarf as a set through Hats Off To Liz, which is a charity close to my heart in honour of a woman I'm grateful I once knew.

Monday, 20 January 2014

My body is a wonderland

So yeah, about that worrying habit of mine? Turns out it can make you spring a leak. In your eye.

I no sooner (almost) get my stress-induced reflux under control when I develop central serous retinopathy--a condition that is apparently most often caused by stress. Of course it is.

In a nutshell, it's a fluid leak into the back of the eye which causes blurriness and ocular migraine-type vision issues. No permanent damage. Or very, very minimal at worst.

To make a long, blurry story short, I'm under observation. The symptoms have almost completely gone (yay!) but they'll be keeping an eye on me (haha!) just the same.

I was so relieved it wasn't a stroke (because I worry about that too, of course) I almost burst out laughing while I was making my follow-up appointment with the opthamologist. Because my brain is like an evil genius, you see. It only lets me think I'm in control, doing healthy things like going to therapy and trying to be all Zen master-y about my life. Brain sits there quietly waiting and watching, then zaps me with a leaky eyeball just to remind me who's really in charge.

Friggin' Brain.

So I'm feeling a little bit battered and bruised today. But I'm trying to look at this as a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing. It's a good reminder that I'm not doing quite enough to manage my stress, and that a few things I've been terribly lazy about starting (like getting back into a regular meditation habit and exercising more than one a month) can no longer be put off.

But aside from that? Well, of course I should probably spend more time doing relaxing things like playing with yarn. Right? Because that's totally the other takeaway here.

More. Yarn.

I sat down with the unfinished sweater during my lunch hour and made some good progress. I'm picking it back up tonight after dinner while I watch some guilty pleasure TV (The Bachelor--don't judge).

I have yarn. I will outsmart Brain. One of these days.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday yarn roundup

Or, things I saw on the internets that made me go, "OooOOOOOOOooh!" this week.

Cat Hat

Confession: we like to dress Dibley up so we can point and laugh. Here he is last Halloween in a hockey jersey (don't tell him it makes his butt look fat--we told him it was slimming).
So when I saw this in iheartneedlework's Etsy shop, my little heart skipped a beat. A cat turkey hat? Oh yes please! 

I hate it when people look at someone's work and say, "oh, I can totally do that myself", but in this case it's kind of true. My apologies to iheartneedlework, but hopefully providing the link to her Esty shop is enough of a mea culpa for planning to use her work as inspiration for new ways to torture...uh...dress up my cat.

Little Fox Knitted Mittens

My mom has been making me mittens all my life. In fact, I was cleaning out the coat closet last week and pulled out four pairs of Mom originals. So it's no wonder I've always had a soft spot for hand knit mitts. They're like little hugs you wear on your hands (awwwww!).

And that's why I love pretty much everything about this adorable pattern (which, as you'll see, has been made into not just foxes, but mice, racoons and other woodland creatures). I would have begged my mom to make me a pair of these when I was a kid.

I'm half tempted to beg her to make me a pair now...

Happy weekend!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

I really do need to disable my thinker. Oh and the bunting is finished!

I worry too much. And then I worry about worrying too much. Therapist Lady is trying her best to break me of this habit, but I kindly pointed out that I'm 43 and this is not new behaviour. Not by a long shot.

So, you know, good luck with that.

Lately I've been worrying about the ailments Dr. Google has recently warned me that I may have, the cat who can't seem to throw up a hairball (which has, in the past, resulted in overnight vet stays and upsettingly large vet bills), my freelance job security (and that curiously absent client), the other cat who has kidney failure and is in what the vet said could be her last year (despite the fact that recently she's been acting all kitten-y and so, I am concluding, is now aging in reverse), that tapping noise that happens every time the furnace turns on, and the obscene amount of sugary crap I ate over the holidays.

On top of all that I've also been worrying about what to write here. On my own blog. My. Own. Blog.

Therapist Lady has SO much work to do.

But I did take one thing off her plate: today I came to the conclusion that I'm going to write whatever I want in this space. I don't know who's reading, so I'm going to hook, knit and write whatever the hell I feel like hooking, knitting and writing.

You're welcome to come along for the ride. Or not. I'll be here either way. Hooking, knitting and writing.

And sometimes even finishing projects, like the Valentine's Day bunting that I am oh so pleased with! It's corny and old-fashioned and makes no sense at all in our family room, but I love it. LOVE IT.

Like the frilly wreath, I'll bring it up here to my craft room/office to live during the off season. I imagine this room will eventually be festooned with all manner of seasonal yarnification, which is fine by me. Totally unprofessional, but I don't hold meetings in my own office so we're good. Which is a blessing, really, since today there's a tube of cat laxative on my desk, just over there near the "World's Greatest Writer" trophy that my sibling presented to me. So it must be true.

Anyway, as soon as I sort out that stack of magazines in the basket by the fireplace (what the what??) I'll get back to my hooks and yarn.

Maybe I'll see you around. But I'm going to try not to worry about it one way or another.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Getting there!

Bunting in progress...

I wish I could get the pinks to photograph correctly. The dark pink is actually a little more salmon coloured, and the light pink is way less violet. Ah well.