Distracted

I've developed a bad habit. It's not like biting my nails or eating chips while I make dinner (I only do that once in a while, I swear). Instead it's a retreat into a cycle of doing a whole lot of nothing which fills time when I could be doing something else.

Here's how it plays out: I have a few moments to relax or I need second to unwind and I flip open the iPad and start looking at Twitter. Then I get engrossed in whatever is on my feed and it eats a ton of time (it could be anything like some great science story, a knitting discussion, a string of funny things (love Swear Trek) or well, that orange spectre who is consuming almost everyone's attention right now). Then I might check my email, play Two Dots or just tap around on the screen and I realize I've wasted time I could have used to knit, read a novel, tidy up, run,  watch TV and I get angry at myself about it.

Worse still, I notice it's become a family habit. We all have screen distractions and we have to consciously choose to put them down and interact, or do homework or play piano or just DO something. 

Yes, the screens are compelling and I like to know what's going on in my community (both actual and virtual) and around the world, but it's become so easy to retreat into that space and disconnect while connecting. I think the crappiness of the last year work-wise and the resultant fatigue helped entrench some of my behaviour. Now I'm trying harder to be mindful about spending my time before I grab my phone. Saying it here is one of those ways I keep myself accountable (and try, yet again, to blog more often!)

We started last night but watching a movie together (we rewatched Brave) and tonight I'm going to knit my never-ending Occam scarf and perhaps go for a run. 

It's not all distracted doom and gloom around here. I finished a blanket for my fabulous new nephew (I'm finally an Auntie!) Mitchell who is not yet ready for a debut on social media and am working on his woolly wardrobe. The kids are really great and parenting teens is just the right amount of challenging. AND I have a new job that is really awesome and even energizing. All are much better distractions.

 

 


September Paddle

We started September with a relaxing cottage weekend and then jumped in to the craziness of back to school (Emma grade 12 and Xander grade 11). This year we decided to ease the transition from summer by taking the first Friday off and going on a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. While the kids do plenty of outdoor stuff we haven't been out in the woods as a family for years. Mostly it's hard to motivate the kids to want to camp when they've just returned from 10 days of backwoods canoeing or six weeks of being a camp counsellor. I think having Uncle Mike and Aunty Hannah join us was the deciding factor.

It was fantastic. We paddled from Canoe lake to Tom Thomson lake and set up camp. We saw a moose hanging out near the boggy shore. We ate food cooked over a fire. We had hilarious escapades trying to string up our bear barrel (how can there not be suitable trees in the bush?). Sleeping in a tent was even mostly okay.

Saturday we planned a day trip and there were 10 portages. There were supposed to be less but Vanishing Pond vanished so we had to take another route. Emma was amazing--she carried the canoe for 8 of those portages. Xander was sherpa carrying all the paddles and food bag. Hannah lead the pack--she was 7 months pregnant at the time so didn't have to carry anything. I snuck in a few minutes of knitting on our lunch break.

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There was a lot of walking for a bit and then there was a lot of paddling. Big lakes, high winds and it was a bit less fun. Let's just say we slept REALLY well Saturday night. And it was pretty cold Sunday morning.

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 Sunday was a comparatively easy paddle back the way we came in. 

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I will admit that I was tired for a few days afterwards--that's more outside and exercise than I normally get--but it was also beautiful and quiet and a great way to hang out with my family and disconnect from the outside world. We're already talking about the next trip--perhaps with my soon-to-be-born niece or nephew! 


Restored

A last-minute decision to take a longer-long weekend was just the thing I needed. This summer has been a different one for me. Due to some obligations at home (teens need a lot of chauffeuring to their commitments) and work (where I'm filling in for someone on sick leave) I just didn't get to do the things I normally do: Like swimming in a lake, relaxing on the weekends and beating the heat by doing more than hiding in my air conditioned house.

When my brother and sister-in-law told me that no-one was going to be at their cottage Labour Day weekend, I leapt at the chance to be by the lake doing those things I love. I took the Thursday and Friday off and up we went to just do a whole lot of nothing. 

I drank beers with my legs in the lake. I sat watching the water with my coffee and reading in the morning. I read a whole book. Xander and I hunted Pokemon until we ran out of cell signal.

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I finished the pieces on my summer sweater (which I wasn't rushing to finish because even a summer sweater was too much to wear this year) AND wove in all the ends on the baby blanket on the outside table with the lake in view to make the job easier.

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We played board games at night and I discovered Xander is a kick-ass Scrabble player. I ate PopTarts and too many Oreo Thins (which are delicious). And I went paddle boarding and didn't fall in the lake.

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Yesterday while I was in bobbing in the lake, it hit me. I feel good. I feel like my old self. It's been a while and I took a few seconds to lament how challenging the last few years have been and how much being in a bad work situation really messed with me. Now that I've been out of it for two months, I see how feeling down-trodden and angry all the time really colours everything including my time not at work. And while I'm fortunate to have a good-paying job in a great place, that's not enough to sustain me. 

Having this little rest (and another one coming very soon--we're taking a 3 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park next Friday) really have restored me. Now I need to work on my strategy to keep things this way.

 


I'm going to be an Auntie!

This is exciting! My first niece or nephew will be born in late October. This is my brother's first baby and he's only 3 1/2 years younger than me, so I wasn't really banking on him having kids now that we're both in our forties.

Mindy Peyton (as the fetus is dubbed--long story and we don't know the sex) will also be the first, first cousin for my kids who have the honour of being the only grandkids on both sides until now.

I really need to get cracking on the knitting! Luckily I started this baby blanket back in the winter when I needed a mindless but colourful knitting project. It's all sewn together and all it needs is a border and for about 10,000 ends to be woven in. 

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Now I'm considering what this kid needs to be properly ensconced in hand knits as is befitting a child related to a knitter.

So throw your favourite patterns at me! I've started a favourites list here but I want options. 

I have green sparkle yarn, just waiting to be something perfectly silly for a baby :)


Off Hiatus

I didn't mean to let the time go by like it did. I actually had blog posts in my head from time to time that I just never got around to writing. Some ended up on Twitter and others just filled my head while biking to work, or out on a run, or while quietly knitting but never made it here.

It's too bad. These posts were about my great friends celebrating a birthday together at a winery. My secondment to a revitalizing new (albeit temporary) role that is exactly what I needed. Our family trip to Montreal and my 46th birthday. The fabulous gradient batt I spun up.

I guess that's all to say that while no one may end up reading this and because knit blogs may have had their time but only the most popular remain, I get something out of posting and I enjoy this partial diary of my life. Even if I'm away for a bit, I haven't left forever.

With that, here are some pictures of the spinning because it really is nifty.

I plan to knit some sort of shawlette that capitalizes on the colour. I have 300 yards so should be fine.

Spinning Sundays are yielding great results for me. My current project is to tackle some Lisa Souza BFL I bought not long after I bought my first wheel--so a long time ago. I have a whole pound which should make a sweater. I'm spinning about worsted weight and will use Custom Fit for the garment because it'll generate a pattern to my gauge. I love that I can spin the yarn that feels right at the time and then make a pattern that fits my yarn and me.

I'm one bobbin in and it's gorgeous. Deep teals with some purples and greens. It's lovely and relaxing to spin.

Hiatus is over. I'll try my best to write more often, especially since I plan to have some (small) adventures in both yarn and life.

 


Zippers 102, Part B

I got down to sewing and really took my time. Sewing together the fronts is MAGIC and I'm still smacking myself for missing that part.

Once I got both sides done with the first stitches at the edges of the zipper tape, I paused the sewing and undid the bind off on the collar. The zipper was definitely a bit too long and was causing the waviness. I knit a few more rows, bound off and then did the final sewing, carefully turning over the long bit at the top.

Not going to lie, that took a couple of tries to get right. No photos of the frustrating parts!

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Then, I sewed an overcast stitch along the middle of the zipper tape to keep it neat and stable. I definitely peeked through the sewn up knit facings to make sure it was sitting right and that I didn't sew through the pink yarn I used to keep the cardigan closed.

Correction: after I sewed through the pink yarn that I used to keep the cardi closed, I started paying more attention to that detail...

Once the sewing was complete, I removed the pink yarn, tucked in the threads and admired my handiwork.

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100% improvement.

I'm so happy I took the time to fix this. Now this sweater is in high rotation in my wardrobe and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

No zipper showing:

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Happy Knitter!

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Zippers 102

Step One: rip out zipper you were never happy with on the otherwise splendid Juuli cardigan

Step Two: follow your own damn Zippers 101 blog post.

Step Three: try not to cringe at "time saving decisions" made the first time around. Yes the zipper is too long.

Step Four: drink coffee and consider options. Going to sew down zipper and then add more collar, then sew rest. I would like more of my neck covered anyway.

Step Five: get going with the sewing....

To be continued

 


Naming It

Burn out

Exhaustion

Phoning it in

Disengaged

Just not right

Tired of being tired

Good, but not great

I'm off. I'm not sure why I feel off kilter but I am, and have been for some time. It's a lot to do with work and some things at home and it's like a ton of feathers, weighting me down and throwing me off.

Nothing is really wrong. I have secure, good paying employment. My kids are great people who need me less in some ways but need me a lot for some of their challenges. I have a good relationship with my partner who listens and is supportive. I'm healthy except for being stressed and tired (which I know can lead to I'll-health, another reason to name it).

I mostly feel like I'm stretched a little much and I'm not sure what needs to change so that I'm spending less time mindlessly scrolling Twitter or playing Two Dots and more time knitting, running, blog-writing and figuring out what kind of work will re-energize me.

I suppose this is the "mid-life crisis." It doesn't feel very crisis-y, more like a slow burn.

I wanted to publicly name it, or at least try to name what I'm experiencing so I can move past the "what's wrong with me?" And the "why am I so tired and unsettled?" Towards some thinking of what's next.

Stay tuned.

 


Tight. But Not Terrible.

The ribbon is on the skirt waist.

The skirt doesn't fit.

It's not really a surprise, I've put on a bit of weight in the last year. I have no idea how much because I don't own a scale. I do notice some of my "skinny" pieces are pretty tight right now and there's stuff I'm not wearing because they're not comfortable. A scale will merely put a number on what I already know.

Whatever.

I'm going to be more careful with my portion size, really cut back on alcohol (seriously, I've been doing a lot of social nights out for drinks in the last year for a bunch of reasons--some fun, some as a balm for rough times at work) and just be more mindful of what I consume. 

As for the skirt, well I suspect I was really relying on the stretchiness of  the fabric to make it fit and it makes more sense to add another repeat (or two) and get this right. 

The nice thing about the pattern is that it was easy enough to rip back the button holes and keep going (Confession, I ripped back, picked up the live stitches and then went and spun up some fibre because I need to take this whole unfinishing a finished project in chunks to keep the frustration down). 

Following some clever folks on Ravelry, I also plan to use snaps instead of buttonholes to keep it all nice looking. I do wish I had made it shorter, but there's no fixing that. I was even musing about turning it into a jumper by picking up stitches at the waist and working up (similar to what I did with my Ella coat) but that might be a tad too crazy. Or just too warm a dress even for a Canadian winter.

Now I'm looking at knit dresses.

Amherst:


Bressay

The City in Winter 

Now I'm getting crazy ideas about doing a Custom Fit sweater that I could graft to Carnaby to make a dress. That's what I love about knitting--even when it goes wrong, I have the fun of thinking about how to make my work better. 


Sunday Sewing

My big plan to do Sunday Spinning keeps getting waylaid. This week's reason is my overflowing mending pile. A tiny tear in my down hoodie that explains the feathers, some tears in Xander's favourite hoodie, a hole in one of those thin-as-tissue Gap merino cardigans (seriously, the quality of these pieces is really going downhill) and my Carnaby Skirt that was never-quite-right.

Knitted skirts are a challenge. The knitted fabric wants to stretch and if you want your skirt to stay on, the amount of that stretch has to border somewhere between a bit tight and just enough. Mine was at, "gonna fall off if I take a deep breathe" so I decided, last spring to sew in a grosgrain ribbon around the waist.

Well, I finally got started this weekend. 

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This tutorial came in handy, because sewing is not something I've done a lot of. I'm almost done, but have been doing it in small doses because my ironing board is the only clean surface I have (because I had to vacuum the cobwebs off the ironing board and lug it upstairs) and I can't sit while I work.

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Looking at the skirt now, I realize it'll require more sewing to get it right. I find the buttons tug a bit and looking Ravelry, the ones that look the best are either on those where the pattern repeats align perfectly with their body or those who don't achieve that alignment, do some stabilizing sewing to fake it. My current idea is to sew ribbon down both edges of the skirt and add some  snaps to hold things in place better than the buttons.

If I really decide to get crafty, I will remove the buttons and sew them over the button holes and let the snaps do all the work. 

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. 

Sewing on the ribbon already seems to be doing the trick and will keep the itchy wool off my waist. Now let's hope the skirt still fits.