Thursday, January 28, 2016

On the spinning edge, baby, the spinning edge

I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:45. That's when AL gets up. He actually CHOSE the 6:30 shift. It works for me to get up an hour later but, ya know, since I was up...

I spun during my extra time. It wouldn't be a bad idea to just do that every day. It's my meditation and I forego it far too often. It felt wonderful.

This is that rough alpaca.

Yup, I have a ton of it.

I've only had these slipper a year.  I won't be using Cascade 220 again, as these were made from.  I'll dye some of this alpaca stuff and I bet it'll make FABULOUS fulled slippers.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dealing with downtime

I wish I was knitting, or designing, or spinning.
I work weekends for the government.  Sometimes it's very busy, other times not so much. It's a "not so much" kind of day.  I have several things going and a couple with deadlines, or that I just want DONE. In fact, I have one of those right there, in that drawer right over there.  It's taking all my will power to leave it in there. 

Speaking of knitting...

I've hidden some of my patterns on Ravelry. You might have also noticed my main website, martaschmarta, has been stagnant for a while.  I've been busy and I've been a bit farklemt. It must be time to stop all that because I've been having ideas...and we all know how dangerous that is! I'm tweaking a few patterns and will release them soon.  I'm also thinking of writing up some more.  Series type groups of patterns interest me most.  It was about 10 to 15 years ago* when I did the series of hats, kilthose, socks, and scarves all inspired by a box of photos my dad gave me.  I'm feeling the itch again.  Same kind of thing. 
I know, I know. I've heard it several times. "I hate it when it's the same kind of thing with variations."
I don't.  Besides, aren't mostly all sock patterns the same thing with variations? At least my sock patterns are two for one; The same patterning from the cuff down, plus an entire pattern written toe up.  Anyway, I initially sold them all in one, low cost book.  Then divided them into groups of similar accessories for a good price, then individually.  Any feedback? Do most people like to buy entire collections or individual patterns?

What's for sale?

Even though I took down my Etsy shop (Etsy drives me crazy), I still have things for sale.  Here are a few:

As well as patterns for hand knitters here
If you see something you'd like to commission, please ask. I'm always open to discussing custom made projects**.
Please message me either on Ravelry or by using the buttons at the bottom of this post for pricing
or to ask about something on my project page you might like
or just to say hello
Yep, that would be me...awkward, almost always.

*It just occurred to me that when I thought that seemed like a long time, it was the time I was devoting all my time to parenting and trying to earn a decent income. Go figger!
**Any of my designs and any designs where the designer gives permission

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What's "old?"

I remember a friend from high school saying to me "the first 20 years creep by and feel SO LONG, but the second 20 fly by." He was right.  Truthfully, I'm far younger mentally now in my 50s than I was in my 30s.  Maybe it's the "I don't give a crap" factor.  It's taken this long for me to realize trying to please people was only getting me in trouble, all kinds of trouble. I old? I've accepted my greys (I think my silver temples look cool!), accepted my rounder middle, and choose a personal life over work on my non-contracted hours.  How can you feel old when one of your favorite 17 year olds yells "MOM!!" across the grocery store and nearly knocks you down with a first class hug?! Just to be clear, she's not my biological daughter, stepdaughter but a student and band member in the high school where I spend half of my time teaching. 

This is how I feel when I see any of the teenagers I've taught at the two schools where I work. 

Teaching and working with kids has been a journey.  I've had some great successes, some haunting mistakes (mostly in that "say whatever you think they want to hear" people pleasing mode instead of just being myself, unfortunately), come to some surprising realizations about myself, and, in the end, have discovered my vocation.  I almost typed "vacation"...Freudian Slip? Probably.

Will I be that teacher who breaks out in song and dance, or cracks goofy jokes? Yep, definitely. 

Will I be the crazy cat lady who lives in the pink house on the corner (see my instagram #workingonmycrazycatladystatus)? Absolutely.

You might be asking yourself "Is she talking about getting old? or teaching? or being weird?" Yes. All three.  I think it all boils down to self acceptance and empathy.  Once I gave up an extrinsic focus and found my intrinsic focus, life was fun, young, and meaningful. 

Okay, enough already of the waxing philosophical.

I knit this week.  I chose two projects to work on: The Hobbit scarf for AL (we've found the ring now and are on to Bjorn), and a secret project.  I've enjoyed the secret project VERY much and can't wait to tell everyone about it. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Watching them fly away

What makes a man...
"What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don't think so. It's the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them." Myers in Hellboy, the movie.

I loved the two live action Hellboy movies.  The animated ones are okay, but I'll take live action over animation any day.  This is my favorite quote from the first movie.  It means something and I carry it around with me.  It's not even Hellboy who says it but Myers who was conveniently written out of the second movie (what was up with that?!).  So, here's my question:  What does that mean for you? How do you define integrity, success, or human value? Is it the bottom line in your asset ledger? or is it something intrinsic? Is it how often you visit your place of worship?  I think about these things, especially now that my girls are young women and beginning to go out on their own...when did THAT happen?! 

It's important to make enough money to survive, hopefully to thrive and save for later in life.  It truly sucks to be short on bills or worse. All three, I'm including my stepdaughter here, of my girls are deciding what to do with their professional lives.  They've seen how it is when there's less money (me) and a lot of money (my kids' dad) and a livable but not huge income (AL, my stepdaughter's dad).  While it'd be great to be able to choose altruistic lives and think only of what fills your and other's hearts when it comes to deciding on a profession, I'm happy to say, all three girls are thinking of that plus choices that provide well enough for them. 

The upside is that all three also are making choices human beings make.  They care, they want to add to humanity, they work hard, they are kind and considerate.

I'm really diggin' how parenting turned out....and, more than just a little proud of my three girls.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Wasn't this blog supposed to be...

about fiber artistry?

Not just spewing about my issues.  As cathartic as that might be, martaschmarta is my designer/private business name.

The holidays were much as they always are and they were fabulous.  Along with that came the much eschewed, "I'm never going to do that again," and inevitable last minute knitted gifts.  I did a bunch.  I had December 21st through December 25th, at 1:00 p.m., to churn out a bunch of things.  Here's what I managed:

My sister's gift.  Okay, I suppose this one doesn't really count since I already had it and just assigned it to her. (See my discussion below to learn about my discoveries about undesignated pre-knitting.)

My sister's significant other wanted slippers, loafer style slippers. I made THREE pairs of slippers.  The first pair was with two strands and a quick pattern.  It wound up too small and more like abbreviated socks, so they'll go into the donation pile.  The second pair was with two strands and a better pattern. They still shrunk too much and fit my daughter. Why didn't I learn after slippers the first that I needed more strands?! Slippers the second were repurposed. The third pair was with four strands and the better pattern.  They weren't shrinking quite enough but were much better.  Why I didn't use three strands, the logical progressions, I don't know.  I opted to let them be a bit lumpy and include instructions for further shrinkage if they needed to be more snug. 

My sister's life long bestie didn't know she was getting a gift.  I've known and loved her my entire life.  She's willowy, tall, blond and ultra soft merino in rich blue was perfect for something close to her face. I pretty much made this up and whipped it out.  Cowls are my new thing, I'm thinking. 

My mother always gets something knitted. This year she requested gloves.  GLOVES?! I smiled and said "Fingerless mitts are nice..." Nope. Gloves and only gloves would do.  I tried I-cord gloves ala Meg Swanson first.  I didn't like them.  The method is fine enough but I thought if I'm going to go to the effort to make gloves, they'll need some embellishment, even if it's a small one.  I found Borika by Carmela Biscuit, ripped out the pair (yes, I had knit BOTH gloves when I rejected them), and made them.  I was pleasantly surprised when they knit up very quickly.

I did not finish The Hobbit scarf in time to gift it to AL.  It's a good thing he's fabulous and understands.  I am through the goblin kingdom, though, so more than half way through. That will be next on the project list.

All the rushed and knit/reknit projects for gift giving left my arms aching and my butt sore from sitting way too long.  That's what happens on school breaks: I binge watch Netflix or Hulu, sit way too long, and tend to finish the sitting type projects that have been lingering.  It's not healthy and certainly is against my reboot goals.  I'll be glad to get back to school. I still work weekends at the hospital but it's a sitting job so no help there.

To avoid the butt expansion plan next year

I've been knitting mittens.  I love them - they're fun, complex enough to hold my interest, and make great gifts.  I'll keep making them and putting them aside for future gifting.  I think I'll also add cowls to my list of gifts in reserve. I made two yesterday.

Here's a close up of that second one 

I had such a good time making them and seem to have a knack for them, so I think I might make a bunch and list them.  I have some beautiful handspun and it's the perfect use for unique, exotic yarn. 

Building the Fiber Empire

I met up with another fibery person last night after work.  We've known each other for some time virtually and it was great to take the step into RL.  I'm going to test knit a piece for her.  She was absolutely charming in addition to the intelligent and strong woman I've come to know virtually.  What a pleasure!! I'm looking forward to working for her on this project. When I have permission, I'll link to the project when published.