Thursday, January 28, 2010

snowdrops blooming

Terrence, me, Albert

The kids and I have been sick for about a week- more now that I think about it clearly. It is starting to seem like that amorphous-January-time I love to forget. There has been alot of resting and knitting, though, which is always a pleasure, and if I remember to pay attention and slow down, there is also quite a bit of opportunity for connection. Maybe I will start looking forward to this down time. When phrased like that, it doesn't seem half bad. And of course, through all of this, time moves on. If I look outside into the backyard, I can now see the snowdrops blooming by the back fence. Here's to spring time in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home Project 3- guinea pig fleece!

Terrence sitting on the new fleece-y goodness we got for the guinea pigs' cage. This was Home Project #3 and really came together when I was at the fabric store buying liner fabric for the knit bag I just finished. Synchronicity guiding the way...

We bought a few inexpensive towels today to go underneath the fleece and set it all up for the piggies. When we put them in their cage with the new bedding set up they blipped around happily for quite a while. The bedding for their cage had gotten to be both incredibly messy (it got everywhere!) and cost prohibitive (wow- it cost so much to be able to change their bedding as often as I wanted). I'm glad to have found a solution that works for both me and the pigs. It is also incredibly cute to think about them appreciating the softness of the fleece on their little feet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

knowing {notes to self}

There are things that we don't know and things that we think we know. Of the things that you think you know, which of them do you really know? By putting them in order and pretending to know, what are you giving up?

From The Art of Possibility-
"We keep looking so hard in life for the 'specific message,' and yet we are blinded to the fact that the message is all around us, and within us all the time. We just have to stop demanding that it be on OUR terms or conditions, and instead open ourselves to the possibility that what we seek may be in front of us all the time."

If we open up to the idea of not knowing, we open ourselves up to possibility.

No doubt about it, admitting that you don't know takes courage and a good bit of letting go. In return there is the free-falling freedom of living life as it is rather than as you thought it would be. Now rather than then. Love rather than fear. Finally. Something I know.

Little Guys

Eva and I's Little Guys.

Monday, January 18, 2010

cats love lace

I finished the art lace bag from Interweave Knits! My bag is slightly smaller than the one in the pattern. The bag in the pattern was knit at 2 stitches/ inch and the final dimensions were 19 inches wide at the bottom, 12 inches wide at the top and 13 inches tall. I knit my bag at 2 1/2 stitches/ inch and the final dimensions were 16 inches wide at the bottom, 8 1/2 inches wide at the top and 9 inches tall. I had been worried about sewing in the lining and attaching the handles, but that ended up going very smoothly as well. I was able to do both this evening after buying the supplies at the fabric store (which were, by the way, very reasonable) today.

One thing about lace knitting that I had forgotten from my last foray into lace is that cats are particularly interested in sitting on lace knitting instructions. Perhaps they can sense that you need to look down at the pattern more frequently than usual? They are undoubtedly attracted to the energy. Thankfully, my cat Maxwell, who is the most attracted to lace-knitting-pattern-sleeping, can be easily transferred to a lap, as long as it is my lap. Now that I have guinea pigs who like to nibble on yarn, the frequent batting at knitting that cats do seems inconsequential. Mostly. I spent a good bit of time knitting this bag with at least one cat on my lap and another eyeing the instructions.

Knit bag pre-lining and handles.

Finished bag and closeup. I chose a deep magenta-purple to contrast the orange. Flashy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Just when you get used to one season, the transition to the next begins. I saw the first crocus, daffodil and snowdrop shoots sprouting up in our yard today. Some of the snowdrops look near blooming! One of the things I like about living in the Pacific Northwest is the relatively long spring and fall seasons. Now that we are approaching the beginning of spring, I feel giddy remembering all of the flowers that pop up around the area, starting out slowly with the snowdrops right out in my front yard...

The first snowdrop and crocus shoots popping up out front.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Illness crept in last night and today leaving me very sick, asleep-on-the-futon-in-the-middle-of-the-day sick, icky fear-of-the-flu kind of sick. I am hoping another good night's sleep and the sunshine predicted for tomorrow will do me some good. That, and the zen quality this type of illness can bring if I let go of resisting the illness and just let it be. Letting the illness be has a lot to do with taking it easy, which is probably what I should have been doing to being with. I have a tendency to want to make big plans and run around with high-minded-projects in January and really, each year what I find is that January calls for rest and hibernation. Let the plans ferment. Begin them fresh when the flowers bloom. All else leads to illness and a forced time of rest, which is what I should have been doing to begin with. But I digress.

Tonight, under the influence of ibuprofen, I started my January knitting project. What did I say about grand plans and illusions of accomplishment? Surely I wasn't referring to knitting. Nor writing. Nor finding inner peace and other spiritual whatnot. All other projects, though, can wait. For now. Until duly inspired to return.

I am hoping to knit the art lace bag from the recent winter issue of Interweave Knits this month. I am not using the yarn suggested in the pattern, however, because one of the women at my yarn store recommended another yarn. She said the one in the pattern would pill fairly quickly and recommended another yarn of the same gauge (~2 stitches/ inch) by Cascade Yarns. I chose a lovely rusty orange (#6029) for the color because as Samuel pointed out, that was the color I really got excited about. He said if I chose the brown it would be because I had thought about it too much and where, he asked, is the fun in that? I bought the orange.

Monday, January 11, 2010

curtains, revisited

On Saturday, I thought my post would read, "The house is clean (Amna came and cleaned, yay Amna!), the refrigerator is full (we went and bought groceries on Friday, yay groceries!), and the curtains are hung (Ellen and Evan came over to give me a hand with Home Project 1- curtains, yay Evan!)." And yet, no. The house was cleaned, the groceries were bought, the curtains were hung. And then I noticed that the curtains I had bought the day before were slightly different lengths even though they all said the same length on their packages. Evan did a super-bangup-precision-filled job hanging up the curtain rods but the curtains themselves were not up to the task of hanging evenly.

And so I went round and round with myself about whether I wanted to find other curtains, whether it was worth it, whether I should be happy to just have them up, whether I was being too fussy caring about those couple inches that didn't line up, wondering which curtains were actually 84 inches and which were either three inches more or less, depending, all the while holding myself back from actually measuring all of the curtains. Suffice it to say that I thought a lot about perfectionism- again wondering whether it is always bad to want things just so? I had gone to the trouble to enlist Evan and Ellen to help me hang them up and there were still issues with the curtains. When I told my mom about the curtains she said, Oh that's how it always is with curtains. Another piece of wisdom they would have done well to give me back in school. {Oh, by the way, when you are an adult and go out and buy curtains, don't bother trying to get them to line up evenly, they never will...} I kept wondering where I would draw the line with the curtains. What I kept coming back to, again and again, is that once again it has to do with freedom and knowing that at any given moment I am free to keep the curtains just as they are and at the same time, I am free to try and even them up. Again and again it comes back to freedom. Without it, there is much hair pulling and shoulding and generally driving myself crazy. That is what I kept in mind when I decided to move forward with project even-things-up.

So yesterday I went back to the store and bought another set of curtains in the hopes that they would be the same length (I need two pair for the large picture window in the living room and we {meaning Eva} are set on one of the pairs but not the other. The pair we are set on they are unfortunately out of more sets so we are trying to mix and match sets for a certain "look". Um. Yes, I understand that if I am not actually buying the same curtains there is a chance they will not be the same length and yet it still seems plausible that because they were made by the same company and sold in the same section and hung up as samples together and the fact that they all said 84 inches on the package, that there was a chance that they would be the same length.) And yet- no. I bought another pair of curtains and those were also a few inches shorter- possibly more- than the main set, the set we are set on, so to speak.

The good news is that I actually like the second (wait, third) pair of curtains better and may end up just going with them instead of continuing on my quest for matching lengths. Today I thought about going to another store to see if they had two more curtain panels to match the two we want to keep but I found that I was just not up to the task and neither were the kids. If I had been very inspired I could have pushed through and checked out the curtain section lickety split but an uninspired me plus two reluctant kids equals trouble at Target so I wisely stayed away. I wish I could say that the curtain project has ended, that I am happy with the results and ready to move on. I am not quite there yes, also I feel myself approaching, albeit slowly. I am definitely ready, however, to move on to Home Project 2- battery charger. In retrospect it seems as though I might have done better starting with that one. How can you go wrong replacing a battery charger? Wait. Don't answer that.

Photos Samuel took of my good friend Nicole and me at the Chinese Gardens in Portland.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010



Yep, it was one of those crafy-projecty sorts of days. Eva and I made pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed for the birds. Now when they come to the other feeders in the yard they can eye these new feeders suspiciously until one of them- a jay? a starling? a flicker?- takes the bold leap and tries the peanut butter. Then there will be no stopping them. Until then, we will keep watching out the windows- or is that just me?- waiting for large flocks to visit our yard. Unfortunately, the bird population has gone down significantly in my backyard since the landlord had a few of the bushes with berries that the birds liked so much cut back dramatically. One bush in particular used to have dozens of robins on it this time of year. Sigh. All the more reason to put out the new feeders. I am planning on planting extra sunflowers this summer as well to add some more bird feeding in the garden.

Eva also did shrinky dinks, a light bright pattern, painted her new flower press, painted a few small paintings, collected leaves and ferns to press in the new flower press, built forts for the guinea pigs, helped clean the guinea pig cage- what else? I knit. I finished the first glove of another set of fingerless gloves. This is my fifth pair over the last month or so. After this pair I plan on starting a new project from the winter issue of Interweave Knits. It should be a challenge and I am hoping to finish it up in a month. Then I will finish that pair of socks I didn't finish last summer. They are, after all, still waiting for me right where I left them- one sock done, but not quite right, needing to be ripped out part way to re-knit, this time a bit longer...

Monday, January 4, 2010

home project 1- curtains

Normally, or at least normally for the last several years, I have gone around the house on New Year's Eve and done various home fix-its for the New Year. These fix-its include things like replacing light bulbs that have been burnt out for months, oiling the sliding glass door or hinges that squeak in the night. One year I painted the front door. I gather up old catalogs to recycle. Take back library books. Toss all old lists. New lists. Any lists.

Tossing all lists has gone so well over the last couple of years that this year when I looked around for lists to rip up I found none! My lists- of books to read, things to do, things to take care of, things to buy, places to go, groceries, even, have apparently dwindled over the years to the point where I don't have a lot of list-ing hanging over my head, which was exactly the point of the exercise in the first place. Don't get me wrong- I still make lists. The difference now is that I seem to actually take care of the lists or at least let them go when I am done with them whereas before I might have left them to linger around for months- either not getting to them or realizing I didn't want to get to them. Outdated lists can get in the way of moving onto something else entirely.

I didn't do as many home fix-its this year on New Years, though I did put in a few light bulbs because the front room had grown dark. I do, however, have some plans for more extensive fix-its that I am planning to spread out over the course of the next several weeks. All of them will no doubt increase the livability of our space. All of them I have been meaning to get to. Some are half done, some just a suggestion. Basically, I am going to make one big list and use the momentum of the New Year to fix a few things up around here, starting with the living room curtains.

We haven't had curtains for the window in the living room since we have lived here, mainly because we had so many plants- roses, a large laurel, a Japanese Maple- that blocked the view for the most part from the street. I also like how light and open it feels without the curtains. All of that changed, however, when our landlord had many of the plants in our yard dramatically cut back. Our front window is no longer partially obscured by the rose bushes and the laurel was cut way back as well. We are a little too light and open now for my taste.

I attempted to buy curtains a few months ago when this first happened but the curtains I bought ended up being too narrow for the window. I really dislike hanging curtains and left the project half finished so that right now most of the window is blocked by the curtains, but not all. I also chose the wrong color entirely- white- can you believe it? I won't go into too many details about what the bottom of the curtains look like now but suffice it to say I am going to go with a darker color next time. My foray into decorating with white has come to an end. My goal now is to get curtains that fit, hang them, and move on.

I know, I know. Why don't I just make curtains? There is a fabric store nearby. I have a sewing machine set up. I have made curtains before. Sort of. I am opting to buy the curtains because part of my mission for these home fix-it projects is to get the projects up and running with minimal hair pulling. My experience with making curtains last time was more about maximal hair pulling. So that's it. Inexpensive, easy, descent curtains with minimal hair pulling (because believe me- just hanging up the curtains will most likely involve at least some hair pulling already). No fuss. No muss.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just a moment to sit outside- yes, outside- to meditate on this my birthday morning
with a squiggly guinea pig afraid of the outside air. He squeaks and wiggles on my lap searching
for a safe spot to forget that he is fearful when finally I take him inside to munch on salad mix and eye we warily, wondering if I will attempt to pick him up again. Nope. Not again. It's back outside to meditate- what a treat. A full half hour. Outside.

Eva joins me half way through with another guinea pig. This one is calmer, used to meditating, still squirming some, don't put your hands on him or he will shriek. Where can I put my hands if not on my lap while I meditate. It works out. Peace. Today is my birthday.