Sunday, December 27, 2009


A very merry, belated Christmas to all! I've been so busy taking care of things here at home that I thought that I'd be completely out of the loop in the blogging world. It looks, however, like everyone has been taking a little time out from blogging as I have (and as it should be during the holidays).

I have many projects to post about in the coming weeks, but right now I'm letting the dust settle a bit. We've had several weeks of illnesses and late nights crafting, so right now I'm just trying to take it easy. I just wanted to be sure to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mini-stocking Advent Calendar

Last night I finally finished my last Advent calendar stocking. This has sure been a labor of love, and I'm happy to finally have it up! We awoke to snow this morning, and since the high temp today was 27 degrees F, the boys and I spent a lot of time inside. Matthew enjoyed helping me hang the stockings up, but I did shoo him outside for a little while to enjoy the snow while it lasted.

Advent Calendar Notes:
I used this miniature stocking pattern for all of the stockings. It was a great way to use up yarn from my stash since the pattern called for worsted weight yarn. It was fun for me to remember back to the projects I used each skein for before it became a "leftover." It was also interesting for me to find patterns in my color tastes: lots of jewel tones, as well as Christmas colors from last year's projects. Since I'm just not that much of a random person, there was some order to my stocking knitting: I made six variegated, six two-toned, six striped, and six solid-colored stockings. I ended up attaching them to a wide ribbon using buttons and ribbon attached to each stocking.

I'm fairly happy with how it all turned out, but I already know the improvements I want to make for next year. No, I'm not going to re-knit all twenty-four stockings, but I do want to find a more substantial ribbon to attach the buttons to. The ribbon I bought turned out to be very flimsy. I think that a velvet ribbon would add a bit more weight, or I may even sew a long, lined piece of holiday fabric. Also, I accidentally sewed twenty-three buttons on instead of twenty-four. Oops!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Bread Basket

Two days ago I used my sewing machine for the first time since our move.

I started this little project about two years ago after seeing Keri's (from Knitty Gritty Thoughts) European-style bread basket. She even had a tutorial with a sew-along, but I eventually got side-tracked with my Christmas knitting. The night before Thanksgiving I pulled out my sewing machine from the garage and finally sewed on the binding. Actually, I didn't finish sewing on the binding until the next day because my thread kept getting tangled and breaking. This is a constant problem, so now I know what I'll be asking for for Christmas (or perhaps my birthday). :) I finished hand-sewing the binding about half an hour before going to my aunt's house. I had pretty simple dishes to bring (thanks, Aunt Nancy!), so I enjoyed making this little extra to go along with my rolls and salad.

My focus for the rest of the weekend is finishing my mini-stockings for an Advent calendar. Thirteen down, eleven to go...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving! I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family, my extended family, and the multiple generations that were able to gather today. Both my boys have been able to spend much time with my grandfather, and I know that is truly a gift and something to be cherished. Ben resembles Pat's side a lot more than mine, so I especially love that in the picture of him and his great-grandfather the similarity between the chin dimples is uncanny. :) Matthew spent much of the afternoon playing with my cousin's (who is now nineteen!) train set. We had made Thanksgiving cards a couple days ago, and he really enjoyed passing those out.

I am thankful we were able to make it to my aunt's house in the first place. We've been battling numerous illnesses here, and Ben still isn't quite himself. I can tell that I'm flirting with something but am doing my best to rest and relax. You definitely won't find me doing the "Black Friday" thing tomorrow. At four in the morning I'll (hopefully!) be nice and toasty in my bed (along with both kids and a couple of cats thrown in!)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some Thoughts

This afternoon I attended a memorial service for a former student of mine. I had attended services of parents of students, but never a student. My heart is heavy as I grieve for this sweet, charismatic, friendly, and always smiling seventh-grader. I often go back and forth in regards to my teaching career: do I want to go back to teaching? Do I want to stay in elementary or pursue a licensure in special education? Do I want to go down a completely different career path altogether? I still don't know the answers to these questions, but what I do know is that I was blessed by so many children in just three years of teaching. I hope that, in my own way, I added something positive to each one of their lives as well.

Right now I'm focusing on my boys and being the best mother I can be. When a tragedy occurs it is natural to hug your loved ones a little tighter, give more kisses and say more "I love yous." That is what I'm doing, and I'm extremely thankful for this time I have with my children.

I want to use this opportunity to discuss something deeply personal. On this little space, I often showcase my crafts, the positive aspects of my life, and the special moments I have with my family. I do not, however, want to paint the picture that my life is perfect. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression a couple of months ago. It was difficult for me to admit that I needed help, and I constantly felt like a terrible mother. When I ran into someone at the grocery store who said, "I bet you're a wonderful mother," I walked away feeling guilty and inadequate. I would read other crafting blogs and wonder how these other mothers seemed to have countless hours of crafting time, take beautiful pictures, homeschooled, etc. all while having more children than just my two. Something I once enjoyed doing (browsing crafting blogs) became a constant reminder of how I never seemed to measure up to my internal concept of the Perfect Mother.

After some urging from my own mother, I did end up seeking help and am on an antidepressant. My husband and I also both try to set time aside so that I can have time to create. Having a hobby like knitting has been very therapeutic for me. In her article in the summer issue of Living Crafts magazine Sonia Choquette wrote: "...a personal teacher of mine once suggested that the root of depression is that a person's creativity is blocked or shut down in some way so they are not doing what the soul needs most to do, which is to create."

I am not writing this for people to feel sorry for me. My hope is that someone may come across this post, read it, and understand that no one person, and no family, is perfect; it's healthy to seek professional help; it's important to find a creative outlet and somehow make time to create.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

WIP: a Couple Days Late

I've been plugging along on my Christmas knitting, or at least trying to anyway. We've had a bit of a rough week with crummy side-effects from vaccines, not much sleep, and a pretty full schedule. At the end of the day all I want to do is sleep, which is what I did last night. Usually, even if I'm tired, I try to spend some time crafting since it makes me feel good, but last night it was light's out at 8:30. Luckily, the boys were tired as well!

Back to the Christmas knitting: I found the pattern for the sweet little gnomes at the blog, Plain and Joyful Living (now added to my sidebar). They are knitted flat, but since the finishing is "sew as you go," it's really not that bad. They're addicting little guys. My first was the red gnome--can you tell? I made it to go in Ben's stocking along with the matching ball from my previous post. I'm definitely going to re-knit the hat, although it makes me smile looking at it (so maybe I won't re-knit it; I don't think Ben will mind).

After Matthew saw Ben's gnome he asked me to make one for him. He said he wanted it to be blue and was very insistent. We've been working on colors, so I pulled about five different colored skeins out and asked him to choose which one he wanted. He picked up the blue skein and said, "blue, Mama." Translated: "I said the blue one, Mom. Why do you keep asking me this?" I lovingly obliged and enjoyed giving it to him on a Saturday morning after he woke up.

Below is a pair of Later Gator Mitts I've been working on. They're from Stitch and Bitch Nation, a book I've had for years now yet have never made a project from (it's a bit too trendy for me). I think that Matthew will enjoy having a pair of these mitts and am even making a pair for one of his friends. Another good thing: I'm using yarn from my stash.

I've been learning some difficult lessons about taking care of my knitted projects. Last spring when I was VERY pregnant I didn't take the time to wash and store my garments/accessories properly. Now I'm paying for it. I'm finding evidence of moths everywhere and am having to wash and mend numerous pieces. My finished Wisp is another example of not taking care of my knitting. I finished it shortly after Ben was born and kept it in my knitting basket until a couple of days ago when I finally got around to blocking it. Sadly, I found a couple of huge holes right in the middle. I haven't found any evidence of moths, so I think that a pair of scissors got it. I took it to my LYS yesterday and got some good suggestions on how to fix it. So, here is another WIP: mending my knits and learning from my mistakes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Baby's First Ball

Football season is now finished for the Hilltoppers, and although I always want them to do well, I'm happy to have my husband back. The team finished with a record of 4-6, so I guess that it was considered a "growing season."

We spent this Veteran's Day basically relaxing at home. I've been trying to organize all of the boys' clothes, and Pat tried to go through the huge wood pile that the previous owners left behind. Unfortunately about half of it is rotted, and there are plenty of spiders, mice, and other creatures making their homes in it. We hate to disturb them, but we also want that wood for the winter. Hopefully all the critters won't decide to move into our house!

This afternoon while Pat was tackling the wood pile, I pushed the boys in their swings while sneaking a couple stitches here and there. The yarn was stuffed into my vest pocket along with the project when I wasn't working on it. I'm just about done with Baby's First Ball except for the sewing and felting. This will be a stocking stuffer for Ben, and I may even make a few more. It's very satisfying starting and finishing the knitting for a project all in one day.

(After I took this picture I noticed that Benny lost a booty--oops!)

Another WIP for me right now is creating a pilot cap with bulky weight yarn. I've made one each for Ben and Matthew and hope to have a (free) pattern up soon. I just need to double-check my pattern notes first so that it's an easy pattern to follow. I know what I want to say and do, but I can't assume that others know that as well, you know what I mean? :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shawl Collared Jacket

As mentioned in my previous post, this sweater has been a work-in-progress for about three years now. I am so relieved to finally have it finished! Seaming it up and sewing on the buttons really wasn't that difficult; I have no idea why I didn't do it earlier. Maybe a psychiatrist could figure that one out. Anyway, the pattern is the Shawl Collared Jacket from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss. After looking at the Ravelry page, I noticed that there is errata available, but I can't remember having any difficulties with the pattern. I used Debbie Bliss Merino Aran for the yarn and really enjoyed working with it. It's so soft and doesn't seem to bother Ben at all. I used the Kiddie Cadet pattern for the matching hat and am really happy with the results.

Ben was very fascinated with the grass during this photo shoot, so it was difficult to get any good shots of him looking up. Of course, I also had to put down the camera a number of times to pull grass and leaves out of his mouth!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WIP III: The Three-Year Sweater

Why is it that adding those last few finishing touches to a project can take the longest? I am ashamed to admit that I started this sweater when I was pregnant with MATTHEW. I even finished all of the knitting, including the collar. All I had to do was seam it up. Well, I finally finished seaming it yesterday! Now I still need to add the buttons and add a brim to the matching cap. Then Ben will be ready to go...for a few months anyway, until he outgrows it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


We had a day of family togetherness, pumpkin carving, eating sweet potatoes (some a little more pureed than others) watching geese migrate (don't you wonder where they're coming from and where they're going?), and of course, trick-or-treating. Although, someone only made it to Grandma and Grandpa's house...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WIP Wednesday II

We've had a couple of cold, wet days this week. I took this picture at about 7:30 am on Monday morning. Matthew was so excited to play in the snow, but I found him outside crying after about ten minutes because his hands were so cold (he refused to wear his mittens). Poor little guy. It was, however, a good lesson about why it's important to wear warm clothing when it's cold out.

Due to the cloudy day, I wasn't able to get good lighting for today's work-in-progress photo. I am proud to say that I've been working on at least one of my Christmas goals: a mini-stocking Advent calendar. Unfortunately, I can't find two of the stockings. Hopefully they'll reappear as we continue unpacking.

Before I had kids I absolutely loved rainy, snowy, cloudy, and/or cold days. I would curl up with a blanket on the sofa, watch movies, knit or crochet, and drink tea or occasionally hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Post-kids, however, it's a little more difficult to do any of the above (especially the peppermint schnapps bit!) I'm fine with Matt going out in the cold, even encourage it, but he's not always willing. He'd love to sit on the sofa and watch a movie as well, but there's only so much tv I'm going to let him watch. So, after a major tantrum because I turned off the tv, he finally settled for some play dough. I gave him the "man," he found the clothes pin in the laundry room, and behold: his very own forklift. He was very proud of his creation!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Some Wee Projects

While I have a couple more involved projects going (okay, more than a couple), sometimes I like to change things up with a little instant gratification in between. It helps to keep my crafting mojo going, if you know what I mean. :) Sometimes I also like to make something "just because," such as these little gnomes. They're currently on our nature table (when Matthew isn't catapulting them across the room or trying to shove them into a vehicle of some kind), and I found the idea at Wee Folk Art. It was fun for me to do some crafting other than knitting, and each gnome took about half an hour to make. I have plans to make many more of these wee folk.

This is my first pair of Toasty mitts from the popular Toast/Toasty pattern. I used some Noro Silk Garden that was in my stash and just love the way the colors turned out. These are for a friend who is going to be spending a couple of years in Nepal. I made her a pair of fingerless mitts when she was in Mongolia for two years with the Peace Corps, and she requested a second pair since the first were "loved to death." Of course, I happily obliged. And since my life isn't nearly as exciting as hers, I'm happy that at least my knitting can accompany her on her journeys.

Finally, a hat for the wee one. This pattern is from the Fall 2008 issue of Living Crafts Magazine. I honestly couldn't understand the directions too well, so I ended up doing my own thing. I'm happy with how it turned out and love how Ben looks like a little elf in it.

I hope everyone has a lovely fall weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Work-in-Progress Wednesdays

One day a while back, on some blog I found that I can't remember the name of anymore, I saw a post titled, "Work-in-Progress Wednesday." In the hopes of trying to have posts up on a more regular basis, I'm going to adopt the idea of showing what I'm working on each Wednesday. I don't usually have a completed project, but I always have something in the works (usually multiple things!).

One of my current projects is the Simple but Effective Shawl. This one is for me with hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn I picked up at the Taos Wool and Yarn Festival. It is a bulky weight and is so soft and cozy. I can't wait to cuddle up in it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Christmas Goals

Well, I already have a whole list of Christmas crafts running through my head and thought I'd better try to organize them somehow. What better way than on my blog--where at least I can be held somewhat accountable? You all will keep me in line when I put aside my (unfinished) Christmas knitting on December 20th to cast on for a new shawl for myself, right? Right. So, here are my goals so far:

Mini-stocking Advent Calendar: I started this with the hope of finishing for Christmas 2007. Well, two years have passed, and I only have four stockings. They are really quick to knit up, and I have tons of worsted weight yarn in my stash. Matthew's now at an age where he'd really have fun with this. Four down, twenty to go!

Sweater for Matthew: When I saw this Digger Sweater (Ravelry link), I knew I had to make it for Matthew. I even bought the book just for this pattern. (I haven't made anything from it yet, but Lucinda Guy's Handknits for Kids has such adorable designs. I especially like that the number of boy vs girl knits are just about equal; so many books are much more geared towards little girls!)

Sweater for Ben: I still haven't quite decided but really like this cabled sweater (another Ravelry link) from Knitting for Baby.

Stocking for Ben: a must!

Cabled Wrap: This is a design idea I have and want to try out. The recipient shall remain nameless since I want it to be a surprise!

Simple but Effective Shawl (fingering weight) or Silk Kerchief: for another mystery recipient. This is actually for a birthday present, but I thought that I might as well include it in my goals while I'm at it.

This is enough knitting for now, but there are several other smaller projects I'm interested in: hats, toys, and fingerless knits to name a few. Wish me luck and good luck on all of your Christmas goals!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I finished Colonnade about a week ago, but I was waiting to post pictures until I found the *perfect* button. And I found it on Sunday at the Taos Wool and Yarn Festival in Taos, New Mexico. Coincidentally, the booth was titled, "The Perfect Button." I am very excited about this shawl (and the button)! The minute I saw it up on Knitty I knew I had to make it--and right away! The grey yarn is Swish worsted from Knit Picks, and the blue is actually a merino/silk blend that I picked up at the Taos Wool Festival last year. Both yarns are worsted-weight, so they came out at a smaller gauge than the pattern called for, but I think that they worked out well. I wore my Colonnade to our local farmer's market today, and it kept me warm in the cloudy and misty weather. Ben enjoyed putting his fingers through the lace bit of it while I was carrying him in the Ergo.

(I wish I had better pictures, but by the time my husband gets home from work it is already dark out, and I didn't want to wait until the weekend to take pics).

The perfect button:

My only yarn purchase at the festival--a hand dyed, handspun wool/alpaca/mohair blend in bulky weight. I'm planning on using this for another cozy shawl.

What has been on your needles and hooks lately?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chromium Star Blanket

This Chromium Star Blanket has already been gifted to a friend, but I'm planning on making another for Ben for Christmas. It was fun to crochet, but my wrist sure got worn out from all of the double-crochet! I was also reminded of why I'm a yarn snob and don't like acrylic yarn: the Vanna's Choice came in great colors, but was super scratchy and squeaky. I'm planning on making Ben's in wool.

I hope everyone's having a great weekend (I'm furiously working on a knitting project that will hopefully be up soon)!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Autumn Exchange

I have completed my knitting for the Season's Round Autumn Exchange and have had lots of fun putting it all together. The exchange is for a fall nature table, must contain at least one handmade item and all items must be made of all-natural materials. We haven't had a nature table in our home before, so I thought that this would be a great way to start.

I knitted the pumpkin using this free pattern from Knitty, and the leaves were knit using a pattern from the Fall 2008 issue of Living Crafts. Both the pumpkin and the leaves were fulled in the washing machine, and I needle-felted some extra details onto the leaves. I enjoyed both patterns, as well as the finished results, but the pumpkin did take A LOT of seaming. Next time (and there will be a next time since I want to make one for myself!) I'll try knitting it in the round.

The play silk and snail were both purchased from the etsy shop, Syrendell.

Fall is my favorite season, and I'm excited to create our first nature table, knit up some cozy hats and other accessories, enjoy hot cups of tea, and play in the leaves with my boys. Today we're getting a taste of cooler weather as it's been rainy, cloudy, and in the low-60's. I love it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Unfinished Business

I've been trying to knit a little each day, even if it's just for a couple minutes. I love my boys, but I often feel like I'm running ragged, and for me, crafting is a quick pick-me-up. Sometimes when both boys are entertaining themselves (especially if they're outside), some mindless garter stitch is in order. Late at night, after the boys have gone to sleep and I'm not too tired, I'm able to work on something that requires more concentration. It will probably be a while until I'm able to actually finish a project, so I thought I'd share what I'm working on in the meantime.

First, my mindless knitting project: the Moderne Log Cabin blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I have tons of stashed yarn that I'm using for this project, and I'm planning on using all warm colors. It will eventually end up on the sofa in our more formal living room (now we have a living room AND a family room--I feel so spoiled!) This project contains miles and miles of garter stitch, so I know that it will take me quite a while. That's ok, though, we're planning on staying in this house for many years. :)

I'm currently a part of the Seasons Round Fall Nature Table Swap. I can't get too specific about the next project in case my partner is reading, but here are the pieces (can you guess what it will be?):

And finally, my little Sheldon. I've been wanting to make one for quite some time now, and started shortly after Ben was born. This was supposed to be my trial, and I have yarn for two more for the boys, but the way things are going who knows when I'll have the time to finish three! Right now I'm waiting on getting some safety eyes before I finish the body. It's a fun little knit; it takes some concentration but isn't too difficult.

I have MANY more projects in my queue, but that's for another post...

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Backyard Fun

One of the things that really drew us to this house was the backyard. It's about twice the size of our previous yard, has fruit trees, pinon trees, a space for a garden, raspberries, a sandbox, and a nice grassy area. We have been spending a lot of time in the yard, especially now that Pat is back to teaching and coaching. Yesterday I filled the turtle (what we used for a sandbox at the old house) with water, and Matthew amused himself for close to an hour. He just loved it! Ben and I stayed in the shade having tummy time and knitting (guess who did what).

Now that we've settled in a bit, I decided to get out the cloth diapers. Right now I'm using a combination of pockets, prefolds and fitteds. I just love these fitteds that I ordered before Ben was born. They are soft and absorbent, and I highly recommend them! Matthew was in cloth diapers exclusively for about 6 months, then he started getting awful rashes. Now, looking back, I'm pretty sure that it was due to the polyester in the diapers trapping in the detergent. Needless to say, we're not using those diapers anymore, and so far, so good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When it Rains, it Pours...or Hails!

Sorry for the absence of late, but it has been an incredibly busy summer! We moved into our new home about three weeks ago and are still in the process of unpacking. Pat started back at school today (and football two-a-days started Monday), so now finishing the unpacking will be a very slow process. We've also been fixing up our previous home to get it ready for renters. Luckily we did find tenants already, which is a huge relief! Pat's father had minor surgery the day before we moved and is thankfully doing well.

We also had some major clean-up to take care of after a HUGE hailstorm about 6 weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was driving when it happened, which was very frightening. When I heard the first BAM! I seriously thought that a baseball had hit my car. But then they just kept on coming. Luckily I was the only one in the car, so after I parked I squeezed myself in between the carseats in the back. I really thought that my windshieds were going to break. They didn't, but others weren't so fortunate. It lasted a good 15 minutes and left a lot of damage all over Los Alamos.

This first pic was taken during the storm from the inside of my car (I don't usually have my camera in the car, but for some reason I did that day:

Here's an example of the type of hail I'm writing about. This wasn't even one of the largest:

Our backyard after the storm:
And the damage done to my poor Subaru Forester (the estimate came to $7000!) :(

Now that we're starting to get settled in and Pat's back at school, hopefully I'll start to get into some daily routine with the boys. Hopefully that will help facilitate more time here on Blogger (and more time knitting, crocheting, sewing, and pursuing other crafts!)