Finding Delight on Your Toes

Yesterday, as I walked upstairs at the office, I looked down at my feet. The deep purple sparkling from my toes delighted me.

Stephanie started getting pedicures as part of her health regimen (must take care of feet!) and she talked me into having a pedicure as well.

The whole pedicure thing seemed awkward. Sitting in a big comfy massage chair while someone kneels in front of me, washes my feet and paints my nails. Whenever I thought of a pedicure, I couldn’t repress the thought of Christ with Mary Magdalene kneeling before him and washing his feet with her hair. I know it’s not anything the same but…

Not for me.

After Stephanie had her first one, she raved and decided that I must get one too. And that’s the thing about pedicures. Everyone who has one raves about it. “You’ve never had a pedicure?! You don’t know what you’re missing! You MUST get a pedicure.”

So, I gave in. In the middle of all the work at the office and at home I thought, why not have a little treat? Allow yourself a little pampering. Embrace your inner girly-girl.

Stephanie made the appointment and I drove us over to the nail spa.

As soon as we walked through the door, a lady took our names and commanded us to pick a color.

“I never get a color,” Stephanie said with a little toss of her hand. I turned to the wall of tiny bottles of polish. Bright colors sang and the enchantment began. Red, pink, coral, purple, lavendar, green, blue, teal, brown, black, gray, white!

I contemplated my choice. Should I pick clear or a soft pink – something that wouldn’t startle the office? Or should I go bright and show off the sparkly unicorn dancing inside?

Unicorn. Definitely, unicorn.

I settled on a cheery red and carried the little bottle into the nail area.

After getting Stephanie settled in her chair and her walker stowed safely away, I took my place beside her in one of the giant chairs. I removed my socks and shoes (because my first appointment was in March) and put my feet into the warm water.

Oh – it was glorious! The sweet lady cut and filed my nails, exfoliated my feet and legs, and then gave them a short massage. As the red polish coated my toenails, a little zing of pleasure zipped through me.

I felt pretty.

The feeling was alien. The effort of bookkeeping and writing and fitting in with my new friends at my new job, the effort of picking up groceries and picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, the effort of coming home and cooking dinner and sleeping and rising to feed the family in the morning – all of these combined to dull my being and I hadn’t even realized it! The feeling of pretty surprised me. Delight blew me up like a balloon.

Simply knowing that my happy red toes laid under the layers of socks and shoes made me prance a little. And now that they are on display in my summer sandals?

Watch out world! A glimpse of my fabulous toes will hurl you into an abyss of pleasure.

delightful toes

I know it for a fact. Happens to me all the time.

Oh What a Beautiful AM

This morning, I looked out the door as I released the cat into the not-very-wild.

Have you ever stared out your own front door and thought the beauty you saw was too much? The mist rising in a line over the trees with the mountain hovering over them. Gray clouds lining the horizon with blue escaping throughfor just a moment. White clouds floating in the brief burst of sunshine as the sun makes it into your little valley. And the green. Oh, the green in shades from lightest yellow tipped leaves to the dark gray green of pine trees.

A bird slipped into my vision and flitted away, flapping its wings too fast to even see as it rose above the trees of the neighbor’s yard and flew off to forage over the hill.

And the poor scarecrow – sticking sideways out from the base of the garden, his torso engulfed by weeds so tall that they make my hands ache just to behold them.

I think I have found the space to share my journey with you again. The space to use my life to share what I am learning, what delights my soul, and what inspires my actions.

I hope those things inspire you as well.

My hands and arms are still healing, so not much knitting action to be found here for now. However, I can promise insights into the world of a working lesbian housewyfe caregiver, struggling to heal her wounds and spread delight, inspiration and beauty across this world.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning
Oh What a Beautiful AM

Bundle of Joy, Week 8: Linus’ Dream

Before I talk about the final pattern, have you signed up to get my Christmas Eve gift yet? Click here to make sure you get it! I’m so excited!

Now, back to business….

The eighth pattern in my Bundle of Joy is Linus’ Dream!

Linus' Dream PonchoWhen I picked Linus’ Dream for the eighth pattern, I thought of it as a gift to you, a bit of knitting which would comfort and indulge during the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The simple stockinette allows for chatting with a cup of hot chocolate (perhaps with a little something added?). As the fabric covers your lap, the poncho snuggles you even before you wear it.

I came up with the Linus’ Dream poncho as a way to comfort myself during these stressful times. Beginning with a thick and snuggly cowl neck with a spiraling design and then continuing through a simple and reassuring field of stockinette, this piece comforts during knitting and then transitions into a stylish blankie you can wear!

A portable, stylish blankie. Linus’ dream come true.

(FYI – Linus was my favorite character in Peanuts. Since I carried my blanket and sucked my thumb until I was ten, I felt a kinship with him. I even played Linus in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in high school.)

I picked the super bulky Mushishi Big to make this piece knit up quickly, which seems to be the way the news is happening these days. The subtle striping in the yarn always moves me along. Something about those automatic stripes creates a need to see the next one and keeps me going far longer than I thought I might knit that evening. As it grows, the fabric easily covers your lap, keeping you warm even before it’s done!

When finished, this snuggly poncho provides protection against the cold, both physical and metaphoric. The thickness combined with the loose fit allows a little air to circulate, nice especially if you’re struggling with temperature issues. (Thanks, perimenopause!)

You can expand the size by simply increasing the number of rows you knit. However, keep in mind that you will need to purchase more yarn to make that happen. The 48” wingspan works for many sizes and I’ve tried it on a lot of people. You’ll notice that my model is tall and thin, but the piece looks just as good on me and I am 5’2” and round, round, round!

Linus’ Dream is 25% off through 11:59pm December 31st, 2017 using the code LDPBOJ8.

Celebrate on, my friends!

***

Want to see the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 7: Obsessive Striation Hat

Can you believe we’re already at week seven of the Bundle of Joy? I’m amazed! The days have zipped by and I feel now like I’m sliding toward the end of the year.

Speaking of the end of the year, have you signed up for the Christmas Eve surprise gift? When I was a kid, my parents always let us open a gift on Christmas Eve and I couldn’t resist sharing that fun with everyone. Add the Bundle of Joy December Gift to your Ravelry library (it’s free through the end of the year) and it will morph into a real pattern on Christmas Eve.

But, back to the real business at hand. The seventh pattern in the Bundle of Joy is my Obsessive Striation hat!

Obsessive Striation HatThe Obsessive Striation hat took me by surprise one year. While searching for a hat to knit for all the nieces and nephews, I got inspired by a striped hat I saw a friend knitting. Instead of asking for the pattern, I began noodling around. After a little spelunking around with the hat, I began knitting these over and over. “Potato chip” knitting for sure!

Thank goodness these hats are so fun to knit! I knitted up several as gifts that holiday season and continue to pull out this pattern year after year. A quick and entertaining knit is the perfect solution to these dwindling moments where it feels like the holidays are zipping by.

As I knit hat after hat, I played with colors. The self-striping yarn created fun color changes across the solid foundation. Two solids together let me create a more sedate version for my more reserved children. I used up scraps of all sorts of yarn to make this hat. The hat only uses 75 yards of each color, so grab your basket of extra yarn balls and get knitting!

Sometimes, instead of using a solid color and self-striping yarn, I used two self-striping yarns. Make sure to either use highly contrasting colorways (such as a muted colorway and colorful colorway) or start making sure that the stripes will not coincide. A good way to do this is to pull to a point where the stripes are just one to two colors off. For example, if the skeins’ stripes go Red, Yellow, Orange, Blue; then pull the second colorway so it will stripe Orange, Blue, Red, Yellow. That way, the colors won’t overlap and cause muddiness in your stripes.

You can easily re-size this hat. All you need to do is make sure you are working with an even number of stitches so that the stranded brim pattern works. Just make the first one to find out your gauge, measure and cast on the new number of stitches for the second.

What do you mean, you’re only making one? Stop fooling yourself!

Get the Obsessive Striation hat pattern for 25% off through 11:59pm, December 20th, 2017 using the code OSHBOJ7.

Celebrate on, my friends!

***

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 6: The Easy Bulky Christmas Stocking

Easy Bulky Christmas StockingAt this time of year, I always find myself running out of time! While hours spent knitting the perfect stranded Christmas stocking are soooo rewarding, I came up with the Easy Bulky Christmas Stocking so I could create a cute Christmas stocking quickly. The fun just showed up on its own!

As a sock-aholic, I work with teeny-tiny yarn all year long. Making this change at the holidays opens my eyes every time. Working with bulky yarn feels strange, but amazing! The stocking works up so quickly – only twenty-two rounds for the leg, and less for the foot. After I get used to the US size 15 needles, the stocking seems to be done before I even realize it!

Duplicate stitch creates the tree and the wording on the front. I’ve included a graph for the tree and word, but you can make your own design. Use graph paper and a space made up of 14 squares wide by 22 squares tall. In the past, knitters have made patterns for doggy paws and snowmen. Draw your borders on a piece of graph paper and let your imagination soar!

Sewing on the buttons and charms completes the folksy look of this fun stocking. I love digging through my pile of spare buttons, pulling out my beads, and rediscovering the treasures locked inside that old bag of mixed sequins! Use your own bits and bobs to decorate your tree with ornaments, give the snowman his face and buttons, or glitz up the words.

Because they knit up so quickly, these Christmas stockings can serve as a great gift for teachers, that unexpected boyfriend accompanying your child home, or your knitting circle! My cousin knit them for each person in her office several years ago, and they were a hit!

Give yourself the gift of simplicity this holiday season (and perhaps a little fun too!) by knitting up the Easy Bulky Christmas Stocking.

Use the code ECSBOJ6 to get 25% off the Easy Bulky Christmas Stocking pattern through December 14th, 2017.

Celebrate on, my friends!

***

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 5: Happy Midwinter’s Eve Hat

Do the deep gray days of winter get to you? Is it time to play with color? Want to bust through some of those leftover balls of yarn?

Happy Midwinter's Eve hat

Welcome to the Happy Midwinter’s Eve Hat!

This colorwork 101 hat incorporates basic stripes, bobbles and mosaic knitting to create a hat with character. No row uses more than one color of yarn, so no stranding. The whole thing is based on stripes – deceptively simple!

Got lots of extra bits and bobs of yarn from previous projects? Go wild with color for the kiddo in your life! The original pattern uses five colors, but don’t let that stop you.

A friend of mine also made this hat in neutral colors for her mother. The different textures allowed the more muted color changes to be emphasized while preserving a look sophisticated enough for a more reserved lady.

Plus, it’s a super quick knit! Even with the continuing travails of tendonitis, I’m casting one on this evening to give for a Christmas gift.

The Happy Midwinter’s Eve Hat is the fifth pattern in my Bundle of Joy series. Get the pattern for 25% off through 11:59PM December 7th, 2017 using the coupon code: HMEBOJ5.

Celebrate on, my friends!

***

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 4: The Aphra Behn Cowl

The fourth week of the Bundle of Joy means it’s time for the…

Aphra Behn Cowl

Aphra Behn Cowl!

Many years ago, my good friend Paula directed The Rover at the University of Denver. The playwright, Aphra Behn, enchanted me. Reputed to be the first woman to earn a living as an author, her work was performed during the Restoration (during the reign of Charles II from 1660 to 1685). Her storied life included spying along with her playwriting – not surprising that she would be an intriguing figure for the young me.

This cowl is designed for the hipster Restoration playwright: a little retro in design (in the 1600s at least) giving the wearer the warmth of a cravat with a feminine softness. Yeah, I think she would have totally gone for this little gem of an accessory.

Just as Aphra would, toss on this little neck-warmer to run out to the farmer’s market and pick up a lovely croissant before you scurry back to your writing.

Aphra Behn Cowl

The Aphra Behn is an exercise in short rows. Each ruffle is created with a series of them, wrapping and turning several times. However, with garter stitch, the twiddly picking up of the wraps isn’t necessary, so give those short rows a try!

The original cowl was made with two hundred yards of a soft blend of alpaca, bamboo and merino. When picking your yarn, make sure fiber content includes at least 10% merino to give it that bounce which will help the cowl hold its shape.

Enjoy the Aphra Behn Cowl pattern! The discount code for Ravelry is ABCBOJ4 and gets you 25% off until 11:59PM on November 30th, 2017. Click here to get it in your shopping cart now!

Celebrate on, my lovely friends!

***

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 3: Farmer’s Market Basket

The third pattern in my Bundle of Joy is….

Farmer's Market Basket

The Farmer’s Market Basket Bag!

One of my very first patterns, this market bag expands to carry a full load from the farmer’s market or grocery store or (dare I mention?) the yarn shop.

A basketweave pattern dominates the bottom which then changes into a mesh lace bordered with lace panels. The basketweave pattern returns in the edging and on the handles.

Simple lacework panels on each side rejoice in the full-blown puffball stage of the dandelions which dot my lawn each summer. Seriously. I can’t get away from them so I might as well celebrate them, right?

Reviews from other knitters:

  • “Great pattern and one of those super easy projects, with a little bit of simple cabling, that makes non-knitters think you are amazingly talented (which I am not).”
  • “This pattern was really fun and knit up quickly.”
  • “I love this pattern! It is a quick knit with interesting elements that make it fun.”
  • “Several new things for a beginner to learn including picking up stitches, a few different cable variations, and the 3-needle bind off…. A very fun pattern and I’ve already used it once at the Park City Farmer’s Market.”
  • “I’m making another one; I love it.”

Truly, this pattern is my most popular. It knits up quickly and makes a great gift.

I mean, I’m just saying. If I could knit right now (arrgh – tendonitis!), I’d be knitting up at least one for Christmas gifting this year.

Enjoy the Farmer’s Market Basket Bag pattern! The discount code for Ravelry is FMBBOJ3 and gets you 25% off until 11:59PM on November 23rd, 2017. Click here to get it in your shopping cart now!

Celebrate on, my lovely friends!

***

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

Bundle of Joy, Week 2: Lynn’s Wonder Cowl

Week Two of my Bundle of Joy…

Lynn's Wonder Cowl

Lynn’s Wonder!

This reversible cowl combines traditional and modern looks & techniques. One side embraces tradition with an aran design including cables and a herringbone topped with bobbles. A field of polka dots cross the other side, created with a two-color honeycomb cable pattern.

Lynn's Wonder Cowl

Here’s my deal: if I’m not challenged, I lose interest. How about you? I’ve combined several of my favorite techniques and embedded a little challenge in each section:

  • Aran knitting on the first side – all cables and bobbles and keeping track of where I am in the herringbone pattern;
  • Grafting the two ends together so the purls and knits all end up in the right place;
  • Picking up stitches along the edge to change into knitting in the round;
  • Balancing two colors of yarn and cables;
  • Sealing in the ends without the tiresome weaving by using the kitchener stitch to graft the whole thing shut.

Lynn's Wonder Cowl (with Kaleo!)

Of course, if you hate the kitchener (and I know several people do!), then I’ve included instructions for the three needle bind-off for the edge and ends.

One of my saddest moments as I left Steamboat was saying goodbye to the samples I knit for Sew Steamboat. The Lynn’s Wonder, made in honor of my dear friend, used the yarn she created for the shop. A mixture of CVM and alpaca blended to maintain the natural colors of the sheep combined happily in my creation. While the yarn is no longer available, any DK or sport weight yarn can be substituted with success.

And now I’m itching to cast on another!

The Lynn’s Wonder cowl will be 25% off through November 16th using the code: LWCBOJ2

Thanks for joining the celebration!

Want to peek at the rest of the patterns included? Click here to go to the Bundle of Joy.

Through December 31st, you can purchase the complete bundle with a 25% discount using the code “BundleOfJoy17”

 

Project Purgatory

For the last six weeks, I’ve dumped everything that seemed like something I should keep into my office. As a result, a pile of yarn, bills, books and business cards obscured my desk from view. Project bags peeked out of baskets. A computer fan, stack of floppy disks (oh yes – old fashioned 3.5” plastic floppies) and CDs finally made me question my cleanliness.

Dang it! Time to organize the office again.

As I worked my way around the room, I realized that my project bag total was climbing. Three bags in this basket, two in another, a trove in a old wooden wine box. All projects suspended in time – waiting for my return – wondering when, or even if, I would return.

I looked at them and realized I’d created a Project Purgatory.

Project Purgatory

I sorted through the bags, evaluating each project. Six unmatched socks wait for me to complete the pair. A new/old shawl design prototype only needs to complete the last few loooooong rows. The border of that purple alpaca shawl lacks a third of its repeats. One slight delay and my experimental shawlish cardigan lies neglected in a bag covered with happy hedgehogs.

After sadly unraveling three unnamed projects (all hats), I reclaimed the project bags and yarn for the future. I stashed the yarn and bags in my cubbies and the needles back in their holders.

My total is now ten. Ten project bags remain in Project Purgatory.

Of course, that doesn’t count the three active projects hanging out in the den.

Or the two luxurious skeins tarrying on my coffee table while my imagination plays with them.

Tempting New Yarn

Perhaps I should give myself a goal: finish one of the forgotten and then I can knit up something new.

Right after I swatch up this new yarn….

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