Thursday, December 3, 2015

Office Decoration Day

In my little corner of office-land, we went a little overboard with the decorating this year.  As I mentioned in my last post, we decided to decorate our doors a la elementary school, so I'll just go straight to the pictures o.k.?

We started off the morning with a visit from Santa and Rudolph....

 A homemade hot chocolate bar kept us warm....

And let me tell you how seriously inadequate some of my coworkers make me feel sometimes.  Trina made all the hot chocolate mixes from scratch, and by "from scratch" I mean that for the salted caramel mix she made actual salted caramel, let it cool, and then ground it up with some cocoa and other ingredients.  And there were 5 or 6 different flavors to choose from. The woman's a marvel, I have no idea where she finds the time.

So here was my door...

 I thought it was funny because half of our suite is always complaining they're freezing and the other half is always hot, but I was amazed at how many of my coworkers, of all ages, had no idea who Snow Miser and Heat Miser were.  Just in case that applies to you too, they're from The Year Without a Santa Claus, and here's an appropriate snippet.

Wendy did one of my other favorites...

And Trina is rockin' Buddy the Elf, a movie I've never seen but have now been convinced I need to watch at least once despite my dislike of Will Farrell.

Kelly is pregnant, which made her door rather appropriate....
In case you can't tell, that's a bib on his chest and he has a pacifier in his mouth.

Heather got creative with old copies of the General Statutes that were due to be recycled....

Can you tell Jan is a horse lover?.....

And Jennifer just went for pretty and creative....

Giles added some ambiance to the end of the hall with his fireplace....
And we all did little stockings with our names.  Can you stand the cuteness?

Tawanda is still working on her door, but has her priorities straight and put up her UNC tree first....

And Wendy either had her kids working like slaves or bribed them with something, because they made us a bunch of snowflakes to string from the ceiling...
And I forgot to even take pictures of the tree after we decorated it, and the wall murals that Wendy and Trina lined the hall with.

Suffice it to say, we may have to work in December, but at least we'll have something cheerful to look at while we do!  Hope you're finding a way to get into the holiday spirit too.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Case of the Missing Christmas Lights

It's been a nice Thanksgiving weekend, even though I didn't get quite everything done that I had planned. 
Long holiday weekends always feel like tons of time at the beginning, but never seem to be quite long enough to fit everything in.

We had a fun Thanksgiving feast at the home of some friends.  Less stressful all around when I'm only responsible for a small part of the menu and I didn't have to prep my house for guests either!  I've been bad about taking pictures lately, so the only one I really got was of our friend's young son enjoying this turkey leg bone. He has no teeth, so he was really just rubbing the gristle end against his gums, but boy did he love it.

The rest of the weekend has been equal parts starting the Christmas prep and just hanging out.  We're decorating the office for the holidays on Wednesday, including decorating our doors a la elementary school.  I had to do some prep work for my design plan so I've taken over the dining room table, which is just about the size of my office door, so that things could be done to approximate scale. 
That's before I got started obviously.  I'll share the actual design and those of my office mates later this week.

I got a little of the Christmas baking done and in the freezer.  Cheese biscuits are made because I need to take some to work Wednesday and also to my knitting group Christmas party next week.  I also made sausage balls and froze them raw.  I'll be cooking some of them Tuesday night for work Wednesday and probably the rest closer to the holiday.

I also got all the Christmas decorations hauled in from the shed today.  Everything that is except the lights for the tree, which have gone missing.  I had a bunch of lights and I can't find a single strand.  I didn't put up a live tree last year, so the only thing I can figure is that I decided 2 years ago it was time for new lights and threw them all out, planning to buy new ones.  I'm not planning on putting up the tree until next weekend, so I guess I'll be shopping for tree lights sometime this week.

The usual Sunday afternoon grocery shopping has been done, and the laundry is in progress.  Other than cooking dinner and maybe a little more work on my door decorations (which aren't quite finished) I think I'm done with productivity for the weekend.  I had hoped to at least get a start on updating the Christmas card list, but I'll work on that soon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Crafting Update

There's been too much knitting, spinning, and overall crafting happening this year to completely cover what I've worked on this year.

You may remember that my crafting goal this year was to avoid any goals or deadlines and to just craft what I wanted when I wanted.  I've been pretty successful, although it's resulted in quite a few more works in progress (WIPs) than I usually have. 

I usually have 5-6 WIPs, sometimes venturing up towards 8 or 9, but right now I have 13.  Three of those are long-term scrap blanket projects and one project is the beaded lace shawl I've worked on off & on for the past 4 years (hint, no progress made this year really, but it's going to become a priority in 2016), so I guess that's really only 9 WIPs, but still a lot.  I'll share some more info on most of those soon.

Despite the "no deadlines" goal for this year, a couple of the WIPs are items I'd like to finish for Christmas gifts.  One of them will most likely get finished, the other probably not, but that's o.k.  I don't really consider these violations of the no deadlines rule since I'm not going to feel guilty if neither of them get finished. The one that probably won't get finished in time for Christmas is for my grandson, who's not quite 5 months old, so I doubt he'll notice.

I did participate in a couple of knit-a-longs (KAL) this year, because KALs are just fun.  It's fun to work on the same project at the same time as other people and share info on where you are in the pattern, ask questions, etc.  Most of the ones I did this year were with the Carolina Fiber Girls.  The did a KAL in the spring where everyone made something with Jones Street yarn from The Copper Corgi.   The KAL lasted a couple of months and I actually finished 2 sweaters.  I made a Hiro out of Jones Street Worsted and a Triticum out of Jones Street Sport.

I don't have a modeled shot of this one.
Looks great with my sweatpants doesn't it?   

 I also couldn't resist the competition of Socktober with the Carolina Fiber Girls, and I completed 7 pairs of socks in October.  There were points involved for different things and I actually came in 4th place and won a skein of (you guessed it) sock yarn.



I was spinning pretty regularly the first part of the year, but not as much since work started getting so busy.  For some reason I just lost my spinning mojo.  I've spun a little here and there, but right now, the project on my wheel is one I started September 12th and I'm still not done spinning the singles.  I'll get back to it I know, it's just not what I've felt like doing as much lately.

I haven't done any weaving since March really.  Just haven't made the time to set up the loom with a new project.  I bought some yarn at SAFF specifically for a weaving project though, so I'll definitely get something started in the new year if not before.

While it's been nice not to set any rules for my crafting this year, I think I'll be going back to setting some goals for 2016.  I'm still going to try not to get too over-committed on things with deadlines, even if they are self-imposed ones, but I like to have a bit of a plan for my knitting, and I like checking things off a list.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

SAFF 2015

One of my favorite trips of the year is the annual Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) held just outside Asheville, NC.  This year, because the dates of the event were moved to the last weekend in October, there was no tractor show, so we were able to use the entire grounds of the Western North Carolina Agriculture Center.

This year I took two classes.  On Thursday I took an all day spinning class with Judith MacKenzie.  I still consider myself very much a novice spinner, so I really learned a lot in this class.  Unfortunately, as is usual when I get immersed in what I'm doing, I didn't think to take a single picture of Judith or anything we did in this class.

Friday morning I took a class with my secret boyfriend Franklin Habit. This class was on doing steeks (aka cutting your knitting on purpose) and installing zippers into knitting.  I had never done either one of these techniques, and while I'm generally a "learn what you need to know to do the project" type knitter I thought it would be helpful to actually have someone physically show me how to do it.  And of course, I had to take at least one of Franklin's classes (secret boyfriend remember?)  While I wasn't particularly doubtful of my ability to do either of these things before, now I know for sure how to do them, and I'm currently scanning patterns to do both in a sweater.  Fortunately, I had a little more focus on Friday and did get a picture of Franklin with Dolores in the background.

Friday afternoon was the first chance I had to do some shopping with all the vendors.  I had a couple of specific projects I was looking to find yarn for, so I focused on those mostly Friday, although I picked up a few things not on my list as well!

Saturday I had no classes, so I decided not to get up at the wee hours with the rest of the group, and instead slept a little longer and got to SAFF about 11:00 am.  One of our group has a vacation home about 45 minutes away from SAFF and she graciously lets us stay there.  Not only is it a huge money saver (more money for yarn & fiber & classes!) but it's nice to have a comfortable place to sit around together in the evening and show what we bought or made that day & just knit and socialize.

This was the day I made it over to the barns to see the animals.  Alpacas and llamas and goats and sheep.  Just about any fiber animal you can think of.  And because they're all so cute and furry I took lots of pictures.  I won't subject you to all of them, just some of the cutest.

Baby Suri Alpaca

Baby Alpaca

More Baby Alpacas


I admired this sheep's dreads

Nosy Sheep

This one just wanted you to scratch between his horns

Saturday night we joined Ann & Janis of the Carolina Fiber Girls podcast and a few others for dinner at the Sierra Nevada Brewery just down the road.  I'm not a beer drinker, but the food was pretty good and it's undeniably a gorgeous building.  I think I need to take Rob there the next time we're in the Asheville area.

Outside of the brewery

Vats of beer

Something to do with making beer

Sunday morning we took our time getting up, packing, and loading up the cars for the drive home.  Michiele was riding with me and we decided to make one more quick stop at SAFF on the way home.  A couple more purchases were made, and we headed home.  I'm so glad I took Monday off work too because besides needing to do laundry and grocery shopping, I need to some time to admire and inventory my haul from the event.

It's quite a haul, but almost all of it was bought with a specific project in mind.  That gorgeous teal grouping towards the bottom of the picture is already being knit into a sweater in fact.

All in all, another great year at SAFF.  The classes, the yarn, the fiber make it worth the trip every year, but the weekend with such great friends that share my love of all that SAFF offers make it more than just a trip.

Sunday, November 15, 2015



Yeah, it's been a while.  Life has been moving along, and I've been living it.  And working...I've been working...a lot.  Session finally ended September 30th, and I think I'm still recovering.

There have been some good times in all those months though...
  • My college roommate got married
  • I got to visit with my sister and nephew at the beach
  • Rob & I went to Asheville for his birthday
  • Classes, yarn, fiber and time with good friends at SAFF
  • My 25th college reunion 
A couple of those I may write a bit more about soon, because I'm back, or at least I'm going to try to be.

Just call me the Terminator.

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Crafting Recap

I can't believe it's February already, so I guess you get the last 3 weeks of January crammed into one post.  Not that there's all that much to tell really.

So far the "no goals" thing is going well, although as I mentioned before, you'd be surprised how hard it is NOT to set goals.  It's made me realize how often I set little goals and make bargains with myself..."if I do X, then I can do Y".

On the knitting & spinning front, I've enjoyed just working on whatever I feel like in the moment.  It means that I didn't finish a lot in January and I have a lot of works in progress (WIPS), but that's o.k.  The flip side is it means that I'm actually enjoying working on whatever I'm working on at that moment, and not feeling like I just "need" to work on it because I haven't in a while, or I have to finish it for a deadline, or some other reason.

I did finish knitting this pair of socks for me.  I also did a little weaving and wove a scarf. My edges are still really bad and uneven, but I haven't practiced much.  I'm taking a couple of weaving classes at Carolina Fiber Frolic in March, so hopefully I'll get better.
I've cast on a couple of new things, and I won't show you all of them, but one item is a reknit of the Water for the Elephants socks in the exact same yarn & colors as I knit them before.  I wrote here about the laundry tragedy that killed my last pair, so I won't repeat it now, but fortunately I have more of the same yarn, so they can be recreated!  Ann, one of the Carolina Fiber Girls recently started knitting herself a pair, and it inspired me to get started remaking mine.  So far I have a little of one leg done.
In spinning news, I finished my Sweets Off the Wheel group  "Squatch" SAL.  This was 3 different colorways of 2 ounces each of fiber from Three Waters Farm.  I ended up just spinning all 3 into singles and then plying the together as a 3 ply.  I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out, although I had no idea what to expect. 

I also practiced my woolen spinning a little with some mystery fiber from last year's Carolina Fiber Frolic.  I plied some of it with some other random fiber I had on hand, and then when I ran out of that, I just chain plied the rest.  The result is just evidence that I should probably practice my woolen spinning more.  Or maybe not, I can't decide.  I really like the smoothness of worsted spun yarn, so that's kind of my preference.  On the other hand, woolen spun is much lighter, so would make a lighter sweater, etc.

I have no idea what I'll do with either of these.  They're only 87 yards combined.  I'm thinking about knitting them up into some squares and then felting them for coasters, although the blue/green I added to the one has some silk in it, but I think I don't think it's enough to keep it from felting enough to be dense.

That's about all my crafting since my last post.  I spent the weekend sick, and didn't knit a stitch or spin at all.  I still didn't feel 100% this morning, so I took the day off in the hopes that a little more rest, Vitamin C and ibuprofen would get rid of the last of the icks.  I felt a lot better by this afternoon so I did one productive thing and washed the pile of handspun that has been accumulating since sometime in October. It's a crappy picture, but you can see I'm not kidding when I say PILE of handspun.
I feel like I should have some sort of ending statement here, but I don't, so until next time....

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spin Stitch Knit Festival 2015

I've enjoyed having a few days off, but it's back to work tomorrow.  I got most of what I wanted to accomplished this weekend, not that it was an overly ambitious list to begin with, and I feel a little more organized at home heading into the start of a busy few months at work.

Saturday I went to a small new event in Stedman, NC called Spin Stitch Knit Festival 2015.  It was indeed a small event, but there were several nice vendors there and I came home with a few pretties.

The blue & yellow yarns on the left are both Whisper Fingering from Unplanned Peacock, an alpaca, silk, cashmere base that is sooooo soft.  They will probably be used together in a two-colored shawl.  The green/yellow yarn is also Unplanned Peacock in her Lustral Shawl, which is a fingering weight yarn in a 600 yard put up.  The yarn on the right is the event colorway, called Oceans 11, and it's from That Hooker Chick.

Also there was The Clay Sheep and I picked up a diz and some adorable stitch markers from her.

Until my friends Michiele and Roxie became bad influences I never bought buttons until I needed them for a specific project.  A couple of years ago they turned me to the dark side and my button stash has been slowly growing as well.  I added 4 of these gorgeous antique dragonfly buttons to my collection Saturday.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's hard to capture with all the shiny going on.

My friend Colleen went with me, and even though she's not a knitter or spinner she is a quilter, so she was both tolerant of my shopping and properly inquisitive about the various offerings and their purpose.  She even bought herself an Origami Owl bracelet, which is not spinning or knitting related, but I was glad she found something there she liked.

The event, though small, was worth the trip for me because I live only an hour away.  There were 9 or 10 vendors, and I figured if Unplanned Peacock was there it wouldn't be a total wasted trip.  They did have some food there, although we didn't actually eat anything there. They did offer some classes, but they didn't do a very good job of providing information ahead of time on what was and/or when those were being offered and I was only able to determine the exact classes and schedule the day before the event, at which point I had already made my plans.

Overall, if they do it again next year and it falls on a weekend I don't have other plans I might go again, but I'm not going to plan my weekend around being able to go.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cotton Candy

This is what I made today.  I actually had most of the singles spun before today, so I just had to finish the last bit of the singles and then ply it.  That's not always a quick process for me, so this is my major accomplishment for the day and I'm fine with that.

Other than spinning I goofed around on the computer for a while and then spent the late afternoon sitting on the couch in the silence, reading a cheesy romance novel, wrapped in a blanket (because it's f**ing cold) with feline leg warmers.  It looked something like this....
Tomorrow will be less lazy and more productive, but I thoroughly enjoyed my day, including the take out sushi we had for dinner.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Calm Before the Storm

I got my 2014 Reading List up to date on here today and started my list for 2015. I can tell from the last few books I've read that I'm entering my mindless reading phase.  When my life gets busy and stressful my reading tends to be mostly Harlequin type romance.  They're escapism at its finest, coupled with guaranteed happy endings, and they give my brain a rest for a while from all the other stuff going on. 

Work is going to start getting busy again next week, so I'm taking the next two days off to have a 4 day weekend and try to combine a last couple of days of relaxation with getting a couple of things done.

Tomorrow is "relax day".  I'm going to spin, knit, read, weave, sleep, whatever I feel like doing at any given moment and not feel guilty about it or think about anything I "should" be doing.  At some point I will figure out what we're having for dinner, but it will most likely involve take out.

Friday is the day to get a few things done.  The pile of donations that have been sitting in first the floor of the guest room and then my craft room for over 3 months need to be listed, bagged, and dropped off at the Salvation Army.  If the weather report remains accurate and we don't get any rain, I will finally get the outside Christmas lights and wreath down and put away.  And finally, the largest project, I will get my craft room cleaned up and organized because right now it looks like everything exploded in there.

Saturday morning early Rob & I are heading to buy some wood so he can start the master bedroom closet built-ins.  When we get back from doing that I'm going to drive down to Stedman and check out the Spin Stitch Knit Festival.  It's new this year and probably small, but I figure I'll give it a chance.  I know that one of my favorite vendors Unplanned Peacock will be there, so that alone will make it worth the drive.

Sunday will be my normal routine, which mainly involves doing laundry and a trip to the grocery store, and gearing myself up to go back to work on Monday.  Hopefully by then I will feel ready for the months to come.

2015 Reading List

Books I've Read in 2015 (93)

I include audio books I listen to on my daily commute. (A) indicates it was an audio book, (K) indicates it was read on the Kindle app, and no designation means it was a traditional paper book.

January (10)
Long Tall Texans Vol. II: Tyler & Sutton by Diana Palmer
Long Tall Texans Vol. III: Ethan & Connal by Diana Palmer
Long Tall Texans Vol. I: Calhoun & Justin by Diana Palmer
The Devaney Brothers: Michael & Patrick by Sherryl Woods
Murder in Thrall by Anne Cleeland (A)
Hidden Moon Bay by Vickie McKeehan (K)
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland (A)
The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Worth the Weight by Mara Jacobs (K)

February (5)
The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Body Double by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Darned If You Do by Monica Ferris
The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs
Vanish by Tess Gerritsen (A)

March (8)
The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs
The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Dogwood Hill by Sherryl Woods
Three Sisters by Susan Mallery
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (A)
The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen (A)

April (11)
Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King
Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Death al Dente by Leslie Budewitz
All Roads Lead Home by Diane Greenwood Muir (K)
Polly's First Christmas at Sycamore House by Diane Greenwood Muir (K)
A Big Life in a Small Town by Diane Greenwood Muir (K)
Die Again by Tess Gerritsen (A)
Treasure Uncovered by Diane Greenwood Muir (K)
Murder in Hindsight by Anne Cleeland (A)
Raven Black by Anne Cleeves (A)
Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

May (12)
Cold Betrayal by J.A. Jance
Hold Me by Susan Mallery
Gathering Prey by John Sandford (A)
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Stranger by Harlan Coben
White Nights by Anne Cleeves (A)
Losing Faith by Jeremy Asher (K)
The Greatest Gift by Jeremy Asher (K)
Dry Bones by Craig Johnson (A)
A Finely Knit Murder by Sally Goldenbaum
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

June (5)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (A)
Blue Lightening by Ann Cleeves (A)
Dead Water by Ann Cleeves (A)
Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton
Thin Air by Ann Cleeves (A)

July (9)
The Final Encore by Jeremy Asher (K)
The Breaking Point by Jefferson Bass
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Fire and Ice by Dana Stabenow (A)
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute (A)
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin (A)
All for You by Susan Mallery, Lori Foster, Gena Showalter, & Bella Andre
Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin (A)
Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

August (6)
Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin (A)
Strip Jack by Ian Rankin (A)
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (A)
Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron
The Black Book by Ian Rankin (A)
Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin (A)

September (4)
Let it Bleed by Ian Rankin (A)
Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (A)
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin (A)

October (3)
The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin (A)
Dead Souls by Ian Rankin (A)
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

November (9)
Set in Darkness by Ian Rankin (A)
The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes
Heartsong Cottage by Emily March
The Falls by Ian Rankin (A)
The Christmas Bouquet/Bayside Retreat by Sherryl Woods
What You See by Hank Phillipi Ryan
Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin (A)
Trimmed with Murder by Sally Goldenbaum

December (11)
Make Me by Lee Child
A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin (A)
Dance of the Bones by J.A. Jance
Willowbrook Road by Sherryl Woods
One Step Away by Sherryl Woods
Once Upon a Proposal by Allison Leigh
The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown
Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin (A)
Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz
Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
The Forgetful Bride by Debbie Macomber

Saturday, January 3, 2015

(Lack of) Planning for 2015

I've been thinking about goals for 2015, and I've essentially decided not to set any really specific goals for this year. 

My broad categories are still the same as healthier/exercise more/lose weight, and write more... things that I haven't made much progress on the past few years despite my yearly goal declarations.  I usually set some very specific goals within those categories and then I don't meet them and I feel bad about myself, or guilty, and that's just not productive.

So this year, no specific goals, at least not in a long range way.  I still want to eat healthier/exercise more/lose weight, but I know what I need to do to do that, and setting specific goals such as exercise 3 times per week apparently doesn't help me do it.  I still want to write more, but obligating myself to write here a certain number of days or work on my ever languishing novel a certain amount doesn't appear to work either.

I'm not even setting any knitting or spinning goals this year.  I usually start off the year with some goals such as "knit a pair of socks per month" or "knit 2 sweaters", etc., but this year I've declared that I'm going to knit or spin what I want, when I want with no obligations or deadlines, not even self-imposed ones.  That doesn't mean I don't currently have some thoughts on what I might want to knit this year, or that I won't knit for others.  I just started a baby blanket for a baby due in 3 months, but you know what, if it's not done until after the baby is born then so what?

The fact of the matter is, I'm already very stressed about how the next 7-8 months of work are going to go, and I just don't need any other reason to feel guilty about not getting something done.  I'm not giving up, I'm not depressed, I'm just trying to give myself permission to take things as they come and do what I can do and not beat myself up for those things I can't.

A New Year's Day Walk

We had some good friends staying with us for New Year's Eve, and he's into photography, so New Year's Day we got out of the house and went to a local park that's centered around an old mill.  Our friend is a much better photographer than I am, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone.
It's hard to read, but it says Ole Gilliam Mill Park
They actually crank the mill up twice a year, and when they do they have others out at the park demonstrating other skills such as blacksmithing, making lye soap, and weaving.

There's a small lake you can walk around and see some of the other buildings they've restored and/or built. And in general, it's a nice little walk.

This building always makes me think of old western movies.
Across the street where you actually park is a restored covered bridge.  I'm not positive, but I think that this actually used to be the bridge across the river.
The sight of one of these always makes me think of my PaPaw Hayes.

All in all it was a relaxing thing to do on the first really sunny day we'd had in over a week.

In case you're wondering, I decided not to officially sign up for NaBloPoMo this month, so I won't be posting every single day, but I am going to try to post more often.  I'll talk more about my goals for 2015 (or actually my lack of them) in my next post.