End of the Year Rituals

Here we are in that odd week between Christmas and New Years Day.

Yes, folks, it’s time for one of those posts that isn’t craft related.

I’m on vacation this week. I’m not going anywhere exotic, I’ve made it back home from my holiday visit to the family, I’m in full blown reboot mode. I think most of us can honestly admit that this is the week where we have the highest hopes for the upcoming year. Many of us are making resolutions to break habits and better ourselves, others of us have thrown that tradition to the wind. It seems everyone has a tradition of some sort, or a tradition not to have a tradition.

I’m a goal setting person. I will sit down on December 31st with pen and paper in hand and crank out what I would like to accomplish in the year ahead. Do I hit those lofty goals? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, taking into account that the fates will deal cards I didn’t plan on.

I will reflect on what happened in the past year, and determine what I could have done better, and what did I learn from it. Overall it’s a positive reflection. There’s no harping on failures or dark spots for too long.

I’m also a cleaner. This ritual begins tomorrow morning as soon as the last drop of coffee is sipped and will continue until I can’t move a paper towel, if need be, it will go into the next day. Every surface in my house will be dusted and cleaned with the appropriate solvent. Every fabric that isn’t laundered on a regular basis that can fit into the washer and dryer will make a journey there. The floors will be hand scrubbed, the hardwoods re-introduced to Murphy’s Oil Soap. Laundry will be put into appropriate drawers, bedding will be changed wether in needs it or not, clutter addressed, if you can think of it, it’s probably happening. After all of that I’ll stand in the shower until there’s no hot water left.

Call me an odd duck, but nothing brings me greater peace of mind than going into a new year with a clean home and a clear mind.

What do you do to prepare for the new year?

It’s Not Called Black Thursday

It’s Thanksgiving. I just made it back home from a day spent with close friends. It was a great day filled with conversation, laughs, and of course a huge table full of food, because that is what most of us think when we thing about Thanksgiving Day. Right?

I’m starting to wonder.

On my way home, I drive by several big box retailers, three electronics stores, and one of the exits to get to the Mall of Georgia. Traffic is questionable, people are being impatient, and the parking lots for every one of these places is packed. It seems that the “Black Friday Doorbusters” begin earlier and earlier on Thursday.

You would think we could curb our consumer tendencies for at least one day a year and stay home with those that we love, but apparently we can’t. On my way home, my heart sank, there are many people I would love to sit down with for a Thanksgiving meal like I had this evening, but it’s not possible be it distance, or death separating us. Some of my best memories of friends and family have been over holiday meals. But now, many are cutting those chances to spend time with friends and family short, to save a few bucks on the latest gadget or do-dad.

Think about it, are those few dollars for a bit of manufactured plastic really worth the sacrifice of time with friends and family? Will that device you just battled your way into the store for even be functional within a year, or will it be out of date? In ten years will that gift you got that huge deal on even be remembered? Just a little something to think about this holiday season.

SEX at SAFF

That title got your attention didn’t it?

For anyone about to go into vapor lock, no, there were no shenanigans like that today. SEX in knitting jargon is a Stash Enhancement Experience. Let’s be honest, there’s a large portion of knitters and crocheters that fall deep into the nerd and geek spectrum and we get a kick out of acronyms that raise eyebrows.

SAFF, yep another acronym, is the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, and it’s held in Fletcher, NC every year.

I’ve had fiber friends talk about if for a few years now, but I finally was able to make the adventure up today. Yarn Rhapsody (the local yarn store in my neck of the woods) arranged a charter bus to ferry about 30 of us up for a day trip. After a crazy work week this was an absolutely brilliant idea, because the last thing I wanted to do was drive about 6 hours round trip today. Big Bear Cafe (another local Gainesville, GA place) provided us with breakfast biscuits and a brown bag lunch for the trip too. Side note: If you come to Gainesville, first you need to stop at Yarn Rhapsody. Second, you must eat at Big Bear.

Alright. So after 3 hours, and wrapping up a project on the way. The bus pulls into the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center and drops us off at the main building. Then it was off to the races. After walking into the main building and pulling my jaw up off the floor, exploring began. There was fiber vendor on top of fiber vendor through the whole building. Need roving? It was there. Need bison or yak blend yarns? They had you covered.   Need project ideas? Samples galore! Virtually every type of animal fiber was available, AND then there was another building, also spilling over with more vendors. I was on a mission to find yarns that were likely to be hard to find in yarn shops, gorgeous hand spun or brilliant independent dyers for my stash enhancement experience. An attack plan was formed, walk through all the interesting booths, and then go back to the ones I loved the most, and make decisions from there. Impulse buys would have had the budget blown in seconds.

After the first walk through, several of us wandered over to the livestock barns. As much as I wanted to cram a pygmy angora goat into a bag and run with it, I realized this plan wasn’t entirely feasible and the bus driver probably would have been really pissed if I put it on bus. Despite my heavy use of animal fiber, I’m still amazed at how many animals produce beautiful wool or hair that we use, and then amazed a second time when I see how many different varieties of these animals exist.

Sheep and goats had their heads and ears scratched, bunnies were petted and then decisions had to be made. Budgets had to be stuck to. I’m on an alpaca kick lately. It’s soft, it’s warm, it’s squishy! I found two huge and lovely skeins from Taylored Fibers for what felt like was a steal. I huge shawl is in the future. Being a Harry Potter dork, I replaced a good project bag that went AWOL a couple of months ago, and I was more than happy with my haul. Then out of the blue, after disembarking the bus and heading to my car, I was ambushed by a friend who handed me a bag with more gorgeous yarn, including a Game of Thrones themed mini-color set and a pattern to boot. (Since she may read this blog, I’m saying thank you for a third time!)

So what’s the overall take away from SAFF?

SAFF is a three day fair. I know people that leave Thursday evening, and will stay the entire weekend. I know people that like today, go up for a day. I’m going to firmly stay in the one day is enough camp. As much as I love supplying my knitting habit with amazing materials, multiple days may be overkill for most. With good planning, you can visit the entire site, and not feel rushed. I’m sure the Fletcher Chamber of Commerce will not give me a thumbs up for that assessment, by the size of the crowd SAFF does bring in a lot of money locally. Don’t get me wrong though, you can certainly make a weekend of it, Fletcher isn’t far from Asheville, and there seems to be plenty of good food, activities, and shopping within the area if that’s how you enjoy spending a weekend. It’s also fall, and it seems this festival hits autumn leaf change at just about peek, so there’s plenty of leaf peeping that can be done too. Some of us just need a quick change in scenery, this fair and the area is a good fit for that.

Will I be back next year? Of course it’s on the calendar, and it looks like Yarn Rhapsody may turn this bus adventure into a yearly event.

Did any of you folks reading this go? Leave me a comment, tell me your assessment of SAFF and what you added to your stash this weekend.

 

As Summer Wraps Up…

This evening has been the first one in quite a while were I’ve been able to sit outside comfortably. Not only is the temperature tolerable with a nice breeze, but a nest of birdlings have evacuated their nest and their vicious mother who could dive bomb and hit harder than a Mac truck has left with them. She was a finch of some sort and thought the front corner of the porch would be a great place for a nest. Even if the temperatures had been agreeable earlier I wasn’t going to risk disturbing them.

Crickets are starting to sing their songs. The bats have left their perches for the evening. The cicadas have definitely made their presence known the past month. There’s no such thing as a silent evening during the summer.

My garden experiment has already past its prime. Don’t tell my tomato plants that though. They haven’t had anything worth picking this week, but they outgrew their cages, collapsed, and then grew outwards and upwards dominating everything else in the 4×4-foot raised bed. If I could stand some of these plants straight up they would easily reach well onto the second floor of the house. Everything else, pretty much hit and miss. If I wasn’t battling root rot and powder molds from the near constant rains at the end of spring into summer, I battled high temps and critters coming along and eating what was being produced. More lessons learned for next year.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to share my porch with several giant orb weavers and garden spiders. I’ve been watching three of the orb weavers spin their webs tonight, but walking into their webs, or worse yet, them, elicits a primal response to want to burn everything down and collect the insurance money. Their bodies are larger then quarters, they are hard to miss. I can watch them spin for hours, but they still creep me out. I just realized if my neighbors were paying attention they would probably wondering why I was staring intently at the edges of the porch for a few minutes at a time.

The neighborhood has changed and it hasn’t. A few neighbors have moved on and others have moved in. There’s just a few new people to wave at as they drive by. If I can give this neighborhood credit for anything I will give it credit for being friendly. There are a few nuts peppered through, but overall, you could walk up to anyone here and say hello and find yourself with your head talked off.

So all in all, nothing has really changed in this little corner of the village over the summer, it’s just finally time to get to enjoy the front porch in the evenings, as soon as I can work out a peace treaty with the spiders.

Oh Hey There….

I've seriously neglected this little corner of the blogosphere for a bit.

I think most of us start blogs with solid intentions of posting often, but in all honesty it doesn't appear that many of us put fingers to keyboard often enough. I have difficulty in sharing bits and pieces of my life with strangers at times, and as much as I love knitting, it's hard to write about consistently.

After all look how many blogs and vlogs are dedicated to the fiber arts that do a much better job than I ever could, but I certainly intended this site on being much more than a class listing and review site.

Maybe its time to crack the shell a bit and share some personal bits.

It's no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It's been closer to hate/hate this year. There was a previous post on the topic earlier this year. At that point I had logged out of a few places until the burn of the Trump inauguration settled down on both sides of the political fence. The rapid fire back and forth of certain sites was maddening. It never really settled down, I've just grown to ignore more and more of it, or better yet have found that liberal use of the unfollow, unfriend, and block buttons can be liberating.

But here I am again. Frustrated.

It's not hard to figure out why. Just watch the news.

It's times like these when it seems like the entire country is whipped into a frenzy that I want nothing more than to draw the shades and pull a blanket over my head for a few weeks. That isn't an option though. No matter what happens, life has to keep moving forward. Unfortunately, it's also hard to share how I really feel about such polarizing topics. We (as in the general population) have lost the ability to listen to differing opinions and speak with civility. Instead of conversation we viciously attack each other. All I know to do is to keep being who I am, helping those I can, being a sounding board for those that need it, and a sanctuary for anyone that needs to escape the noise.

I'm more than happy to meet anyone at the local coffee house with a ball of yarn and a couple of sticks to participate in a bit of escapism, no hot button issues, just a bit of caffeine and peace.

The Great Knitting Update

It’s been an exciting week, knitting wise, and May was a nutty month period, I’m hoping June will bring a bit of breathing room.  Alas, I think it’ll be another case of no rest for the wicked.

I finally got off my butt and uploaded that pattern I’ve talked about a million times on this blog to Ravelry, and then crazy things happened.  It hit the Top 20 within 8 hours and the number one spot by Tuesday morning.  But knitting fame is fleeting and it’s backing down the list as other great projects climb the ranks.  You can download the beastie here.

After that pattern hit the top spot and I’m still a little awestruck that it did, I’ve already started work on the follow up.  I’m going a different route this time, it will be a long asymmetrical wrap in two colors, featuring mosaic motifs and inspired by the lace patterns of the Oomingmak knitters of Alaska.  The yarn is already on the needles and three pages in my infamous Moleskine are filled with notes with several pages to go before I can actually start typing it up.  I’m keeping the skill level in the range of adventurous beginner, mosaic is very easy to learn, but it’ll be helpful to have a little lace experience under the belt.

Square Web PromoSo that’s knitting life in a very small nutshell.  I’ve still got multiple projects on needles all in various stages of completion.  I may declare June no cast on month so I can catch up on things, but we’ll see how that goes.  World Wide Knit in Public Day is June 10th, if you’re near Gainesville, GA you should come.  June knitting classes begin this weekend.     July classes are mostly planned, I just need to work out dates and times.  I’ve got blog drafts in progress illustrating actual techniques coming up soon.

Personal life….well….work and knitting has consumed most of my time lately.  I’m okay with that.  Severus developed a bad urinary tract infection shortly after his pet guinea pig, Peanut Butter, passed on.  The vet said it was likely brought on by stress with the changes in the house, plus my neighborhood has had a severe problem with feral cats this spring, and several males were marking the house.  Sev is very territorial and  doesn’t react well to cats walking through the yard let alone marking his house.  He’s an indoor only cat, but he knows when and where the wild ones are passing through.  A lot of medication, fluids, and several calming remedies later he’s improved and is acting like himself again. Lucius, still thinks he’s a dog. Goober.

I watched one of my closest friends get married last weekend, and of course she looked absolutely amazing, and I’ve never seen a wedding so tailored to a couple before.  Everything from A to Z was tailored to fit their personalities. 

When Pets Grieve Pets

There was a change in the house this weekend. I can’t say that I was surprised with it happened, but the timing was unexpected, with all deaths we always think we would have more time. Sir Peanut Butter Fluffy Butt, my first and only guinea pig passed away this weekend. I had been noticing he had been eating less lately, moving slower, and sleeping more his age had caught up to him.

PB wasn’t just my furry companion but interacted on a regular basis with my eldest cat, Severus. Sev introduced himself to PB by jumping on top of his cage within 5 minutes of walking into my home and meowing at him like he was a litter mate. I know it sounds a bit crazy, a cat befriending a rodent and vice versa but they got a long well. When PB was out of his cage, Sev would follow him around when PB would go exploring, it wasn’t unusual to have both cat and guinea pig snuggled into my lap when we would watch TV in the evening. They just got along, they didn’t seem to understand how predators and prey worked. As PB aged and seemed to want to spend more time in his cage than out exploring the house, Sev would often check in on him. PB would toss a treat his way once in a while. I don’t know if he was intentionally sharing or asking to be left alone, but he never hid from Sev.

Sev seems to be missing his friend. After discovering PB’s demise, I buried him, and cleaned out his cage. The empty cage sits in the corner of the living room until it is sent to it’s next owner (hopefully a child and their first pet) Sev looks at it and knows something is missing. At one point last night, I found him asleep on top of it. Today, Sev is wandering around the house occasionally meowing, this isn’t normal behavior for him. I think he’s calling out for his companion, but I could be wrong.

Lucius, the younger cat, seems baffled by Sev’s behavior, but otherwise doesn’t seem impacted. He’s trying to get Severus to play, and keeps getting smacked in the head. If anything Lu is a persistent little bugger.

So if you are an animal person like I am, send a happy thought Sev’s way, and if you have any tips to help him adjust to life without PB please send them my way.

A Whole Lot of Knitting Going On

It’s May, and holy cow is my dance card is full for the month.

I might as well move into my local yarn store!  Actually, people probably already think I live there. That’s okay, the bulky yarn section is full of soft squishy pillow like skeins that are good to snuggle with at night.

I made a post last month featuring classes that begin this weekend.  You can find that here.  One more has been added to the schedule after a demand from a few folks to offer another session out of Barbara Benson’s latest publication, after seeing the sample at her trunk show and book signing.

img_0992Beginning May 10th, Barbara’s Lacy Pinstripe Cowlette is a go! Oh, and guess what? It’s a weekday offering.

This one will run three consecutive weeks from 5:30-6:30pm at Yarn Rhapsody, in Gainesville, Georgia.  The fee is $60, and you will have to purchase Barbara’s book, Mosaic and Lace Knits, for the pattern, this one could not be featured as an individual pattern purchase on Ravelry.  Please contact Yarn Rhapsody at least 48 hours before the first session to get signed up.

Coffee and Wool now has a dedicated Facebook page too.  There’s a love/hate relationship with that site but it is a good centralized spot to land all things Coffee and Wool.  So if you woud like to give that a follow, the link is here. 

So besides classes and social media updates, what else is going on?
I escaped Georgia for the weekend, to attend a weekend long bachelorette party at Disney World.  Translation, I didn’t get any knitting done this weekend, but hey, ummmm Disney with friends.  The wedding associated with this bachelorette party is at the end of the month.  You know I love this friend dearly when I don a dress and heels to see her walk down the aisle.

Spring festivals are popping up left and right, so when I’m not teaching on the weekends, there will be some sneaking off to those. The Georgia Renaissance Faire is in full swing, that pilgrimage needs to be made.

And then there is a lot of watering the garden.  My little patch of dirt has taken off, to the point it may need it’s own state of the garden post.  I managed to make the first baby green salad of the year last night for dinner.  Growing my own food makes my soul happy.

So that’s it, things are a bit busy, but in a good way.

Lava and Socks

I don’t know what I had for dinner that kicked the crazy dream portion of my brain into high gear last night but geeeeeeeez. Actually thinking about it a bit more, it’s probably all the pollen I’ve been snorting.  Spring pollen counts in Georgia are legendary, even if I managed to not have seasonal allergy issues, there is no way inhaling that much particulate is good for anyone.

Anyway….
Crazy dream….
This one actually woke me up.
I’m driving home after a couple of errands around town on a hot summer day, and notice while sitting at a red light that it’s getting hotter.  I look over at a drainage ditch and notice lava is streaming through it and down a storm drain.  It doesnt’ even register to me that this is unusual.  I look back up at the red light.  Look back at the lava.  Look back up at the red light and then notice the road ahead is beginning to melt into gelatinous orange and red blob.  Well great, the road to the house is melting.  I’m going to have to take the long way around.  Light turns, and I’m still driving along like nothing is unusual about the road melting.

After making it home, I get into the house, pet the cats, and then sit down on the front porch with a half-done sock, and begin turning the heel while I watch as everything off my little hillside becomes covered with lava.  By the time I finish turning the heel on the sock, my house and a few neighbors are on their own little island, everything beyond that is bright orange and red.  article-0-186BC59400000578-438_964x637

Meanwhile, nothing is wrong, nothing is out of norm, I’m just working on my sock.

It was one of those amazingly vivid dreams, that leaves you sitting on the bed for about 30 minutes wondering what just happened, and if you should just get out of bed and start your day.  Maybe I should get through my workday, and finish the sock I’ve been working on.

 

I’m Back…Finally

Someone has gotten a little grief about her lack of posting lately.

Things got a little busy, a trip to Oklahoma for work, more work, recovery from a respiratory infection, more work, and a couple of speed bumps here and there.  Did I mention work?  Things got a little neglected over here for about a month, and things began to slow back down to manageable levels this past week.

My knitting however has not suffered, lately, more so than usual, it’s been my go to for winding down in the evening.  Sometime in the near future I’ll get the works in progress, and completed projects written up.

While on my blogging hiatus, spring has sprung in Georgia, and the urge to grow things has taken root in my brain.  Spring seems to be taking the next week off though, oddly enough there is a chance of snow tonight.  It won’t account to much if it hits, but I’m hoping it won’t be cold enough, long enough to damage the buds and flowers that are already taking over the local landscapes.  There’s a personal goal set that by the end of this weekend that seeds will be started in tiny greenhouses, and nursed inside for a month or so.  A 4×4-foot raised bed has been assembled and filled, and the front flower bed has been de-pine-strawed and switched over to mulch.  If the front bed looks like a well cared for jungle by mid-summer I’ll be a happy camper.

So, that’s the update.  I’ll be better at updating, but for now, I’m going to go find my favorite fuzzy pajamas, pour a glass of wine, and get some good relaxation time in.