Monday, December 13, 2010

Ninja Loops

I'm working on these great socks. The pattern is beautiful. The yarn is really quite nice. This is the first time I've knitted with Lorna's Laces. I'm enjoying knitting these very much. They're a Christmas gift for someone special.
The colorway is Cookie's Deep Dark Secret. As time goes on and the sock grows, I'm getting the unsettling suspicion that these may not fit the recipient. Hmmmmmmm. That would be bad. I knit on in the hopes that the stretchiness will prevail. Keeping my fingers crossed

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teeny Tiny Socks

When I was a young girl, I was fascinated with miniature things. When I spied this pattern, it absolutely enchanted me, reminding me of the things I loved as a girl.

And because I love hand knitted socks of all types, I find this to be a perfect project for my various sock yarn scraps. At about 3 inches high and 2 1/2 inches wide, they're the sweetest little tree ornaments or package embellishments, and they can even hold a small gift of their own, like folded money or candy.

I'm making them by the dozen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grocery Shopping

I've long considered this to be an annoying chore, those constant trips to the store to pick up another item I forgot to complete my meal - battling the inevitable whacky wheel on the cart - standing bored in a long line at the register.

Although grocery shopping here is more difficult in many ways, it's always an experience. The Laiki (li-KEE) opens in a different neighborhood in Athens each day. When Fridays come around, I grab my little 2 wheeled cart and walk about a quarter mile up steep uneven cobblestone sidewalks to the street where it's set up. The fish is fresh,
with loads of variety that I have very little idea of what to do with.
The fruit and vegetables are fresh and delicious. Grecians eat in season and they eat locally grown produce. Eggs are not refrigerated because they're so very fresh. The shells aren't washed so the natural barrier stays intact, keeping bacteria from entering the egg. Eating an egg here is amazing. The yolks are so dark that your scrambled eggs are orange rather than yellow. I normally buy lentils for my pot
and surely the world's richest, most delicious honey for my tea: Shopping at the laiki is not something done quickly. It's not at all convenient. I don't understand the language enough to make proper change, so I resort to an outstretched palm full of coins, from which the smiling, indulgent merchants pick out what I owe. We smile and nod our heads at each other alot. They sometimes try to practice their English. We laugh at our shared ineptitude. Shopping at the Laiki - it's become a one of my most favorite local things to do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

October Socks for Moi

I finished these socks in October, the same month I started them in, which is quite the feat! (A feat for my feet. pun intended).

Lovely pattern: Watercolor Paintbox socks. I found it while looking for unappreciated patterns for the Sock Knitter's Anonymous group's October sock KAL.

I knitted these on my couch in America, on a long flight, on my couch in Greece, AND on a bus trip to the Pelopenese. These are very well traveled, sophisticated, international socks.

The yarn is a squishy BFL from Portfiber out of Portland, Maine. I love them so much that I'll even forgive them for turning my feet blue.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time Travel

I've spent my first few weeks in Athens sightseeing. Some notable sites to see include ancient ruins such as the Acropolis, The Parthenon, The Temple of Poseidon. Wandering through these ancient sites is absolutely surreal. One can't help but imagine the civilizations that created them and question how in the world they managed to acomplish this massive feat without any mechanized equipment. Think of it: Huge slabs of marble were somehow hoisted hundreds of feet in the air and fitted in place atop giant pillars. I can only shake my head in amazement.

And yes, I've seen pictures of these structures in books. But being here is so very different, so much more engaging.

Wonder just sort of washes over me as I pick my way through these ruins and walk over stone paths that Socrates, Plato and our other toga clad, olive leaf crowned ancestors walked. I could stay at these sites for hours, time traveling.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

I received this wonderful award from Hege over at Cloudberry.

I always love seeing her photo's of the beautiful Norwegian countryside and her skilled knitting. What an honor to receive it! I now get to select 15 newer blogs I've discovered to pass the Award Love on to. So! Without further ado, here, for your reading and viewing pleasure are some notably lovely blogs:

1 Living and Knitting on a Maine Island: Welcome to Frenchboro!

okay, this girl is flat out funny. I get such joy out of her posts that take such simple everyday events and put a humorous twist on them. It's her humor and personality that get you - and also probably make survival on a small island possible!

2 Head Full of Glitter

creative writing by a fellow nurse and good friend who writes her heart and will steal yours away as you read

3 Knit n Run

Lauren's writing of her family and running is genuine and warm. I enjoy every post.

4 Serenknitty

Yummy recipes, beautiful photographs, and O.M.Gee, the Yarn!

5 Sunday Hot Pants

Mouth watering recipes from New Zealand with amazing photography

6 Wool and Cotton

I love seeing her gorgeous knit items and her photography is lovely. In both English and Greek!

7 The H is Silent

Beautiful knitwear, yummy recipes and a new baby to cyber-snuggle

8 Short Attention Span Theatre

Ria never fails to come up with interesting posts. She really makes me think


Grab the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link, then pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered and contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hands in the Dishwater, Head in the Clouds

When I did the breakfast dishes this morning, I noticed that I can open my casement window wide and let the cool morning air into my kitchen. There's no screens, but strangely, I haven't seen any flying bugs either. They must be being polite, giving me a break from ordinary buginess.

Everything still feels extradordinary to me here in Athens, so I appreciate the respite. I'm sure I'll become disenchanted at some point - but for now I'm enjoying all the newness - the plans for the days we'll spend traveling, the making of new friends, the surprising adventure of simple tasks: like finding a grocery store, learning from a patient waitress the greek words for avocados with vinegarette, avocados me vinegarette! and which buttons to press to buy tickets for the metro. It's all surprising and wonderfully new. The discovery is delicious.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tea Leaves, again

Next oldest Granddaughter received my second version of the Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi this week and pronounced it perfect. (My Grandgirls are so grateful and easy to please that they're an absolute pleasure to knit for)

I thought this came out just a touch on the large size under the arms. I could have went with a smaller size for her, although I added several inches to the length of both sleeves and body to fit her lanky frame. Modifications detailed on my Ravelry Project Page

I've enjoyed this pattern and after two successful sweaters, I've definately gotten my money's worth, but there's still one more in the works for oldest Grandgirl. I'll have to buy the adult pattern for that beanstalk of a child who has surpassed me in both height and shoe size.
These girls sure make Grandma's knitting look good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

Alrighty then! Thirty minutes of running. 10 minute/2 minute run/walk intervals X 3. May not seem like much, but for as long as I've been not running - it feels like a real victory.

Even got new shoes to celebrate. Now it's time to ice the shin splints.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tying Up Loose Ends

I've been packing up my life into neat little piles. Some I can take along with me, but most will take the slow route by ship.

I found it interesting that I've managed to stack what will be my entire household overseas into one side of my bedroom here. (Not counting furniture, of course, which is included with our apartment)

I'd like to say this is because I'm simplifying my life and all that jazz, but the truth is - this happens everytime I move. I just throw alot of stuff away that I haven't even noticed has outgrown it's usefullness until I poke around in drawers and closets that haven't seen the light of day in years.

You'd be surprised how challenging it can be to pack everything you'd need for 6 weeks into this amount of space.

There's three months of personal entertainment contained in my messenger bag.

And, last - but certainly not least - my next three months of knitting.

We're just awaiting the movers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Slow Start

Happily, I'm back with the running again. I'm not even sure what made me stop, though I'll admit, I always find inactivity easier than physically difficult things. Despite the laws of physics, this object given any break in motion tends to stay square on the couch, with her feet up and some knitting in her lap.

It was a good feeling, though - being fit. My energy level was high. I'd face a new day with square shoulders and enthusiasm. I could run the empty shopping cart all the way back to the store entrance, rather than leaving it crookedly abandoned in the adjacent parking space. And running those half marathons! What a kick that was! In a way, I'd say it sort of changed my view of myself. I realized then that I could do any single thing I set my mind to. I stopped saying "I can't". I stopped even thinking it.

Being the Queen of Denial, and being quite busy these days preparing for a move - it's easy to breeze past my need for exercise, to put it on the back burner to do later. But this time I'm not going to do that. It's past time to start the slow slog of gaining fitness. I'm not saying it's easy. There's lots of sweating, huffing and puffing, and soreness. And there's this sort of akward lost feeling until I find my exercise routine. I weave around the gym machines in indecision. I can't find the abs machine I used to use. There's someone on my usual treadmill - the one beneath the fan. I don't want to lift any weights in front of that young, cute guy. And I forgot my towel. :-/

One of the benefits of blogging is how it keeps your goals right in front of your face. It makes you accountable. In the blog world - you can celebrate your personal victories, you can joke about your fails. You can have some company along the way. So, I'm using my blog for accountability. It's the best running partner ever. I'd rather run than explain why I haven't. Even if it's only explaining to myself - in writing. I'm up to 6 min/2 min run walk intervals x 5.

P.S. : If anyone reading this is interested in starting to run, it's important to start slow. Your bones, muscles, heart and lungs have to build up gradually. The Running 101 program is the one I use.
You'll think you can do more. Don't!
ask me how I know this
Oh, and run slower than you think you should. Even slower than that. You'll get there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Annis = Satisfaction

I just recently came across an interesting tidbit of information. Did you know that the word Annis is a female name of Greek origin meaning Satisfaction?

Have you heard of the term Synchronicity?

Well, that's what this project is: a meaningful coincidence, startling serendipity! Like a comment from the universe on my move to Greece - I love it when I'm graced with such.

This shawl is one of my favorite things I've ever knitted. It's scarfy crescent shape makes it so much more wearable for me than a triangle shawl. Although it was a labor intensive knit, the result is perfect. My Ravelry Project Page reflects the few modifications I made.

When my Granddaughter Jade modeled for this picture she told me, "Grandma, I feel like a Princess in this shawl!
But it was the shawl that was so lucky to be draped on such beauty, I thought.
I am so lucky.
I am so satisfied.

My eyes brimmed as I framed my amazingly lovely Granddaughters in the viewfinder, making it difficult to get sharp pictures. In every way, they are beyond beautiful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beads and Short Rows and Lace, Oh My!

I've admired this Annis pattern like a lovesick middle schooler ever since it came out, but only recently discovered a yarn in my stash that was worthy. On several occasions, I'd dug and dug deep into my stash and then....Oh yes.

The Estelle Cadenza, sent to me by a faraway friend. It's silky, saturated, uh-huh - even sensual. I proclaimed it the one.

Even better - once I brought out the skein, I realized that it matched a pretty silky dress I'd yet to wear. I'd been saving it for a party or a special dinner out. The match - absolute perfection. The dress, the shawl - you can even see the earrings another friend made just for me. The perfect ensemble. I had a plan.

Then came the knitting. Now I know lots of people have written how easy this pattern is and how quickly it knit up. So. many. people.

I can't say I really understand why it's taken me 60 days just to get through 18 rows of lace, but it has.

Lace isn't relaxing knitting for me. It takes me over. I need a stone quiet home, with no interruptions. I knit sitting all bent over my needles, counting furiously and tensely making little notes. I have to take my lace knitting in small doses.

Here's my reward: It's coming around, this lovely little shawl. I've started the short rows - no doubt it will virtually knit itself.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I've been eating one of these every single day this week.

A sliced up peach - nicely ripe, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey. Dusted with allspice. Yum! This peach time is a most excellent time of year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Simple Swap

Those of you who participate in swaps know the joy of filling a swap box with goodies for another crafter. Making the package is often as enjoyable as receiving one. I find swapping so fun because it's like getting a shopping trip with a friend who knows you. While the sender tries to send things you'll like, she also can't help but put her own spin on it. I've discovered some fabulous items that I never would have known about otherwise.

Our My Other Hobby Swap Group on Ravelry recently hosted a simple swap in which the sender could only select 3 items for their partner. This was truly challenging because each item had to count and contribute a significant amount of joy in order for the package to be a success. You couldn't rely on volume if you weren't sure what she'd like. It seemed alot more important to do some quality stalking.

Here's the fabulous package I received from Melanie, wtrmlni on Ravelry:

I absolutely love the selections she made for me! I've already spent quite a few happy hours browsing the book, Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson and have some serious sock knitting plans in place. I've made one pair of toe up socks before, but what I love about this book is the amount of information relating to basic toe up sock techniques. I like the idea of getting a good understanding of the process.

The yarn: well - as you can see, it's gorgeous! Those purpley, greeney blues. :sigh: I've not seen that colorway before and I'm excited to try it out. Melanie said she saw it knit into a beautiful scarf and that's what drew her to it.

And finally, my partner sewed me a dpn holder/organizer. Although I have one I received in a previous swap that I love - I had jammed it so full of dpn's that I still couldn't find what I needed, so this was a very welcome item. She did a beautiful job on it and I simply love it. I use it exclusively for my sock dpn's.

Yep, this is what organization looks like.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Airplane Knitting

I love going places. I just spent an enjoyable week in Washington D.C. My husband worked each day, but I was a lone tourist. I rode the metro everywhere and walked through countless museums. It was alternately opressively hot/humid and cool/wet. I liked the wet because I don't get much of that here. With my pop up umbrella and loaded metro pass, I was invincible, though my hair was really, really unruly. My hair only behaves in the dry desert and this was.... the opposite of that. I bought a baseball cap.

A Phoenix to Washington air flight gives you four long hours of audio book listening, knitting nirvana. Appropriately, I made travel socks that I can wear on my next flight. I'm thinking that will be a looong one - over the ocean to our new overseas home. Fourteen hours, I've heard! (Think of the ambitious project I can attempt on that trip!) I like the idea of being able to slip these on easily to avoid going barefoot through security once I take off my sandals, and for comfort on the plane as well.

These are great little socks. The pattern: Turkish Bed Socks. It caught my eye when I saw a display of dozens of these knit up in the wonderful shop on Bainbridge Island that I visited on vacation last year. I bought the skein of koigu there and have been intending to make them since. They kept being put aside for other projects I was making for other people, but now that I promised myself that I'd take care of myself first, these seemed like a perfect little project to kick off some wonderfully selfish knitting. They knit up so quickly that I completed one on the way to Washington.
I might even do some Christmas knitting with this pattern. I just can't imagine who wouldn't love them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aches and Pains

Did I tell you my neck is killing me? After several months of this, a consult with my M.D. got me some time with a physical therapist and she recommended using heat and cold to stimulate circulation to the painful area. I remembered seeing something about handmade microwave and freezer therapy bags, made out of muslin, filled with beans, corn or rice.

With a little internet investigation, I found a nice tutorial at Sew Mama Sew and made myself my own little therapy bag and case. In fact, I made two. One for the microwave and one I put in a gallon ziplock bag and stored in the freezer.

Mine are filled with pinto beans, because that's what I had on hand. I like the weight of the beans and they hold the heat for about 30 minutes after only 2 minutes in the microwave. I think the little pillowcase is an excellent idea for these, since it acts as insulation between hot spots that may be in the beans (or other filler), after microwave heating and your tender skin. I wouldn't use mine without it. I made my bags 7" x 11" and filled them with about 3 cups of beans.

This is a perfect first selfish project for myself. I'm using heat and cold therapy, along with anti-inflammatories, stretches and strengthening exercises 3 times daily to heal my sore neck and shoulder. Consistency is the key. I'll let you know how it goes...

A Journey of Change

Although I've been looking forward to change over the past year, anticipating it and actually doing it are two different things, I've found. Here it is on my doorstep.

Knock, knock
Hello. Everything's changed. Welcome to your new world. Pending international move of household, Goodbye to your fabulously stable job of 6 years, Goodbye to your known culture and surroundings. Goodbye to your family and friends.

Hi new world. :-) You seem like quite the adventure. I have many expectations of you, but here's my top two:

1.) Decreased stress
2.) Increased self care

A couple of years ago, I took much better care of me. I could run a half marathon. I was flexible and lithe because I practiced yoga regularly. I ate well. My weight was optimal.

I'm not sure exactly how this happened, but my health has changed. When I wasn't looking, my fitness degraded, along with my flexibility and motivation. Now my neck and shoulder hurt. My neck pops when I turn my head. I'm unhappy with my weight. I'm tired of cooking, so I make the same thing over and over for dinner, or go out to eat. I buy lunch at work rather than take it. I spend my days off lying around the house because I'm exhausted.

I've noticed for awhile now that I do alot for others and so little for myself. I'm well aware that if I want a healthful future, this must change. It may take a whole lot of selfish to get myself in the habit of putting myself first. This post starts a year long project of intent to improve my life. I'm going to have alot of fun doing it, too.

Doesn't this sound like a fun project?

Welcome to Project "It's all about ME"

Want to join me? We can do it in the name of a better quality of life and feel absolutely vindicated about doing stuff for ourselves alone. Pedicures. Exercise. Massage. Naps. Selfish knitting and sewing. Time for exploration and play. Reading. Writing. Journaling. Healthful cooking. Gifts to ourselves. If you'd like to join in, comment here and I'll make a sidebar link to the blogs of those involved so I can be inspired by your self care projects as well.

Now, I'm not saying I won't make things for my family or be kind and giving to others. I just won't let it take every bit of my free time. I'll put myself first.

I will.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yes to Tea Leaves!

I enjoyed knitting the Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan. For my first real sweater, it went well - not nearly as scarey as I'd anticipated. I do have questions about how I can avoid the little holes created where the sleeves meet the body. Must investigate. Tips welcome!

The only modification I made was to make long instead of three quarter length sleeves. I'd like my Granddaughter to be able to wear this as an outdoor sweater to throw on over her school clothes. Oh yes - I changed the length between the button holes as well. I didn't like the large gap between the two buttons, so I decreased the stitches between button holes to 10, then added two more buttons. It just seems more balanced to me this way.

So! I made it through my first sweater and actually enjoyed the process, as well as the finished object. Much easier than I ever would have guessed. Of course, a good basic pattern helps. Next oldest Granddaughter is asking when hers will be done. I'm casting on even as we speak in fuschia pink! I am a sweater knitter. Or at least a Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan knitter. Pretty cool.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What I Wish I Could Put On a Care Label

Dear Daughter,

I know you have the impression that socks are inexpensive, easily obtained items, but these I’m presenting to you are very special socks – magical, in a sense. Each hour spent knitting them were spent with Mom thinking of you, daydreaming about how you might wear them and how they would improve your life and add comfort to your tired, chilly feet. They’re infused with Mom’s best intentions, and loving regard for you. When you pull on these love drenched socks, your soul, along with your feet will be warmed and comforted. They’re made of a high quality wool, blended with nylon for long wearing. Your Mom dyed this yarn with Easter Egg dye tablets in her crock pot in her kitchen. When she saw the color, she knew they had to become socks for you because the delicious shade of green, along with the blues reminded her of the cool Washington forest and the drizzling raindrops you long to experience again.

Care: This wool is machine washable. However, your Mom spent many hours with her smeary bifocals perched on the end of her nose, creating these socks with little tiny stitches on toothpick sized needles. You'll worry that if they were thrown in the washing machine, one might get lost or mangled by a nearby zipper. Because you’ll treasure all your Mom’s hard work, you’ll more likely want to wash these by hand, in the sink by swishing them through soapy water, rinsing, then shaping them out on a towel to dry. Shampoo works nicely to wash them with. After all, wool is simply sheep hair, is it not?

You may wear these in shoes, or simply around the house on chilly days because I assure you, my cotton loving, southwestern raised, wool naïve daughter - your feet have never been more toasty than they will be wrapped in wool on a cold day. I hope you enjoy them just a fraction as much as I enjoyed creating them for you.

All my love, daughter. Always.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Lord of the Rings

This beautiful yarn is called Tolkien. It was part of my package in the recent kit swap organized in the My Other Hobby Swap group on Ravelry. There's a fun bunch of people there. Lots of talented, ultra crafty people who do various other hobbies besides knitting and crochet. Just off the top of my head, I can think of basketweaving, card making, scrapbooking, spinning, jewelry making, dyeing, pottery, quilting, mixed media, and oil painting for heaven's sake.

This is a fun group to belong to because one of the features of every swap is that your package must include something you make for your partner using your other hobby. Given the varied things people do - you never know what sorts of wonderful things you might receive!

My partner, Lauren - Lolabella on Ravelry, sews and makes jewelry, so I was lucky enough to get some really cool things including two sewn items - one of them a bag, (and you know how I love bags!) She picked a fabric that on sight made my heart go thumpity thump. A super cute folk artsy leaf and tree pattern fabric from which she made both a sling bag and a much needed dpn needle roll. She even stamped leaves on the interior fabric using a stamp she carved from a potato! Talk about crafty!

The Tolkien yarn, forest-y fabric, and even the tiny little sterling and copper ring stitch markers screamed the Lord of the Rings. She also included the Aestlight Shawl pattern - one I've wanted to add to my knitted wardrobe since I first saw it. What a pleasure this will be to knit now - with the theme of this classic trilogy running through the rows. I'm so taken with the theme that I'm going to listen to the story on audiobook as I knit. An old beloved tale knit into a wonderful new shawl. Thanks to my English pal Lauren, I'll enjoy every stitch. That girl sure knows how to rock a theme!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Official Summer Knitting

June seems to me to be summer. I'm not sure of the official summer commencement date, but to me - it's June, so I'm starting my summer knitting. This really means Back to School, or Fall knitting since I seem to knit in advance of the season to come. (Except for socks, which I knit all the time because I love them)

I missed making a pair of socks for May. I started Cookie A's Mystery Sock with the Sock Knitter's Anonymous Group on Ravelry, but stumbled so badly on it that I lost all the joy of it and abandoned the project. June, however, is a new month and I've cast on a pair of Komets by Stephanie van der Linden.

I'm using that sock yarn I overdyed with Easter egg dye tablets the month before last. I love how it looks knit up, which makes me itch to get back to the dye pot too.

Another project I've been thinking about for some time is some scarey sweater knitting. I'm thinking of my Granddaughters going back to school and this is coinciding with a desire to get some sweater knitting experience. There's so many lovely patterns that have been piling up in my Ravelry queue. But here's the winner for Grandgirl knitting:

Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi.

It just seems cuter than cute to me to have a mini Tea Leaves pattern available, and although I haven't ever knit the full sized Tea Leaves Cardigan, I'm working up to it. As a rule, I like to start small and build. As result, the Granddaughters are getting little versions of the sweater Grandma Julie wants.

Being a realistic and practical person - I understand that these sweaters will not get the care a knitter might hope for. They'll be tossed into the corners of bedrooms, partially zipped into backpacks with the sleeves trailing on the ground, and other such offenses. Knowing this, I looked for an easy care yarn - soft against the skin, (because they'd never actually wear anything 'itchy' or 'scratchy'), and able to be washed and dried in the machine.

I found some Washable Wool by Moda Dea. Discontinued, and available in limited colors - I nonetheless found some that would work. Though the tangerine color arrived eye searingly bright, a dunk in a watery brown dye wash dulled it down to a rusty orange that I like quite alot. The price for an entire sweater for the 11 year old? Eight dollars. Yes! I've made my way through the first couple skeins.

Wish me luck.