Monday, December 05, 2016

crooked heel

Sometimes my knitting seems to be a metaphor for life. Take these socks that I'm knitting:

Sock progress

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

The pattern was part of a Christmas present last year When my wonderful mother in law gifted me with SOCK CLUB!!! It is available for purchase now--it is L'abeille D'or Socks and the yarn--amazingly enough is also from that sock club. It is Modesock in a colorway that doesn't seem to be available anymore. I think it was called heirloom corn? I am too lazy to go get the wrapper.

Anyway, before I start the life metaphor, let me say this. I do love this yarn so so much, it is so squishy to work with. And I loved the sock club. I didn't anticipate that I'd actually use any of the patterns though because I have this love hate relationship with sock patterns. I love making socks. I especially love making toe up socks. But I have narrow feet and a loose knit and so I can never make a 64 stitch sock actually fit me. But I decided to give this a go because it came in a smaller size AND it was toe up.

So here is where I diverge. I have this way of knitting toe up socks on 3 dpn--you have equal numbers on two stitches and double that number on the third. Your start of a round is between the smaller needles. No stitch markers needed. YOu do need to remember if you are doing a pattern, which side you have designated as the "top" so that your pattern is actually on the top of your foot and make the heel on the OTHER side. So, when I started this pattern, I just kind of did that. Usually, I also do a version of a short-row heel that I learned from the fabulous Ann Budd in her article on toe up socks in Interweave knits sometime in 2007 (again--lazy). But this pattern called for a different heel and I thought--oh what the heck, I'll do that kind.

Well, this my friends is where I feel like my life and my socks are at the same place. I'm knitting along thinking I have things under control and then whammo I'm stuck.

In life--I'm just feeling stuck, I'm not really working in the field I trained for, not really doing a job with any upward mobility, really really wanting to do something information science related instead and not really sure what that looks like both locally and what I envision it being.

In knitting--well I understand sort of what the pattern is asking, but because I said "I don't need no stinking stitch markers" I keep feeling like the heel flap is... well crooked. I understand (I think) what the pattern is asking--I'm just not sure in this uncharted territory where to put it.

And in both--well I'm feeling so tired and busy that I'm not sure I have the energy to figure it out.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What I've been up to

Well this has quite the week.

I'm sure you've probably heard someone say this this week--or perhaps you said it yourself.

Monday the 7th--which feels like a REALLY long time ago, I went to a meeting/baby shower. It was to be a book shower, but you know--I can't resist knitting for a baby. So I threw in a sweater and a hat with my board book contribution.

Baby sweater and hat #gifts

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I had such fun knitting these. The hat is just a basic hat--figured up from the Handy book of patterns by Ann Budd and the sweater is a Kimono baby sweater from Mason Dixon knitting.

Then, I admit that the US election did not go exactly how I thought it would, and I'm realizing that I probably live in my own bubble which would seem weird given I live in an area where the democrats don't usually even run anyone. But there it is.

At any rate, I barely had time to process that when I got word that a former co-worker and knitting friend had passed away from complications of brain cancer. She was an extremely special person. Even saying that feels like an understatement. You know that one friend or relative you have who everyone turns to for advice and help and hugs? That friend or relative who you'll go months without seeing (except on facebook) and they'll ask after some concern you posted or talked about? Sally was that person and more. I feel like our community has a Sally shaped hole in it, and it will take a while to stitch up.

I confess, I started this sock simply so I'd have something to knit at the visitation. I do need some new socks though.

Tiny start to a #sock

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I wrote the above a few days ago, but didn't have time to finish, because the week suddenly got even longer. However, work progresses on the sock, but I'm starting to worry that it is turning out to be too big for my stupidly narrow feet. It's like al of a sudden I can't make socks that actually fit my feet. Because yes, I did finally finish the second baseball sock, but am too tired of that yarn to rip back the first too small sock and re-knit it. So basically I have one sock that fits. Well lesson learned, I'm going to knit another inch or two on the current sock and try it on (toe up for the win) and if my suspicions are correct I am ripping IMMEDIATELY.

Meanwhile, in an effort to DO something, anything really to mitigate the feeling of helplessness I feel, I decided that I could actually do something small for someone who is collecting all the smalls and turning them into a big. Carry the Future, which is a great non-profit organization attempting to provide baby carriers to refugees in Greece is having a blanket drive. They are asking for blanket donations, both twin sized and baby sized to help a group of refugees in Jordan stay warm this winter. Blankets I can do. Baby sized ones in particular. So I started this:

Just a little something I started today.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

It is entirely scraps from the PJ pants of the last few years. And it turns out I'm probably going to miss their November 30 deadline. BUT, I saw an article the other day that said an organization here in Michigan was looking for blanket donations too in order to assist refugees settled in Michigan. Evidently, if you come from a warmer climate Michigan winters (even the mild one we are currently experiencing) make you wish for many many blankets to snuggle under. In some ways that's even better. I'll get to give a happy baby sized blanket to someone who is just getting to America and let them know that not everyone hates them. Better yet, I think I probably have enough scraps to make a few more. And I get that same satisfaction I always get with the thrum and hum of the sewing machine.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween wrap up

I guess I want to start this with a disclaimer: I love Halloween and I love making costumes for my kids. I don't judge other people for not enjoying this. There are things other parents do that I just do not like, will never like and therefore, if I do them I do them halfheartedly. So, if you are reading this and thinking gah: I could/would never do that. Great--get on with your life! No judgement at all from me!

For us Halloween prep usually begins in August. In August I drag the girls to Joann and we spend a happy hour leafing through the pattern books and dreaming about what we want to be. I try to have a final idea/concept by labor day (when typically patterns go on sale for $1-$2) and I get started sewing by the end of September. One year I finished by October first, because I'd been laid off from my part-time job and found myself with gobs of time in September, but usually I'm done with costumes about a week before Halloween--give or take. Very rarely am I rushing around on Oct 30, trying to put finishing touches on something.

SO this year was different.

If you'll recall, I spent a lot of summer feeling very much off. And thus, things that had always given me joy seemed exhausting. I did take each child individually in August for the pattern book leafing, but it became one more exercise in frustration as each girl had a vision that they were not seeing in the pattern books. And I might add, a vision they could not articulate to me without me feeling very much like a failure.

Then at the last part of August I very suddenly (like within 10 days) came out of this fog and... well had a bunch to catch up on. There was back to school, and canning and my toe was still infected, and my work hosts these fundraisers three times a year and one of them lands in October, so I had planning. So yeah--I set a deadline of September 30 for the girl to finalize and articulate what they wanted. And I was kicking myself for missing my usual labor day sale.

But honestly, the girls were pretty solid in what they wanted: BB8 from start wars and a "unicorn in a onsie." I confess right there with you I had no idea how I was going to pull either off and furthermore, what a unicorn in a onsie would even look like. She helpfully drew a picture:

costume sketch

Yeah the picture didn't really help.

BUT, I did also get a description from this and believe it or not saw this exact thing at Target! I was so thrilled, I came home and told her and asked--would she rather I buy her that? The answer was a definitive no.

AS for BB8? She told me she wanted a dress with BB8 designs, and I created a whole pinterest board of BB8 ideas. And guess what--she liked NOTHING I pinned. She kept saying she wanted a teacup dress. I had no idea what that was. I had her look through the dresses part of the pattern books, and she kept asking me to make her prom dresses. I finally googled teacup dresses, and got an idea of silhouette.

We discussed materials for these costumes and finally, I had a plan. Of course it was October at this point.

And remember when I said my work has a fundraiser in October? Well I usually spend a chunk of time working on that because it was scheduled for the week of the 14-16. And at this point, it's early October and I have NOTHING.

Well, my MIL was headed out of town and before she left she dumped a bunch of Joann's coupons on me (see everyone was worried at this point) and Lo and behold, Joann's was having a blowout sale. Patterns were $1-$2 and fleece was $2.99 a yard. Plus there were coupons. Good coupons too.

So on Columbus day(!) I hiked my butt to Joann's and bought both patterns, and all the material for the unicorn. BB8 was still a problem though because the material I wanted was $24.99 a yard and I needed 2.25 yards. I'll just let that sink in.

Joann fabrics was having a sale! Any guesses what this becomes?

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

So on October 15--the day after my part in the fundraiser was over--I started the unicorn costume.

Then, another Joann coupon hit me--20% off your entire purchase including sale items. I had just about decided that 20% off 24.99 was about the best I could do--but when I went in, the fabric was listed at 30% off! And it ended up ringing up lower (I asked before cutting)--something like $14/yard. So I bought it (even though I did have to let the checker know that it rang up wrong--the slip SAID one price and it rang up FULL price--and she was NOT happy with me).

Now, one of the reasons, I usually start so early is that because when you are winging it like I often am, and you aren't a good seamstress--things happen. And usually I need time to puzzle it out.

Not so much here. I needed to just get it done. And so the unicorn has the messiest zipper i have ever put in in my entire life. And if I had had time, I would have switched from the pink I bought to white, but I didn't have time. So I made it work.

Oh and then, The weekend after I started, I got word that my deadline had changed. No longer was Oct 31--A Monday the day costumes were needed. Nope--Friday the 28 was costume day at school. Eliminating 3 whole work days that were mostly WEEKEND days. Let me tell you--I should get an award fro restraint that I did not email the school in a FURY.

Thankfully, aside from the zipper, the main Unicorn costume (actually a cat or gorilla pattern) came together smoothly (as well it should I think this is the 9th time, I've made something from this basic pattern) and BB8's dress was a "learn to Sew EASY" pattern that because it was a knit, didn't have set in sleeves or gathered skirt.

I did finish the Unicorn costume, pretty much by Wednesday and Thursday, I just really focused on ONLY sewing and cut out and sewed on the BB8 symbols.

Just so you know, I did NOT go for cosplay style accuracy. I went for the least I could do to make the costume look like BB8.

This is not to say that this was all without drama. Do you remember I mentioned that the unicorn was modeled after something you could buy at Target? Well every popular girl in middle school announced that SHE was going to be a unicorn. Which made my unicorn girl flip out. She was worried that my version would not match up with theirs, that the mane I was planning wasn't fluffy or long enough. In fact at one point, I told her I wasn't working any more on it until she calmed down and stopped screaming at me, and started BB8.

I managed to entirely finish the BB8 dress and I did cheat a little on my--I'm not doing another thing on your costume, and cut out the pieces for the hood before she calmed down. You know what finally did it? On Monday they had pajama day and someone wore the unicorn suit as PJs (a boy) and suddenly she became convinced of the sheer epicness of her costume. Which meant that I was able to sew it all together (finally) and have her be excited about it.

How did they turn out? Fabulous. I took pictures on Friday before school and I'm hoping to get more tonight before they trick or treat (yes, they are 8th graders, yes, they are nearly 14 and YES they want to trick or treat). Because it is not my practice to put my girls' pictures out on the blog--I have covered their faces:

Unicorn

BB8

Compare the drawing to the actual Unicorn--Nailed it didn't I!

It was super fun, but I hope I never have to pull off costumes in less than two weeks ever again.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oh hey

So again, another month flew right past me.

I've sort of struggled with how to put into words how the last 5 months have been for me. But let me say this--I spent a good chunk of the summer not feeling like me.

Usually, I am good at rolling with the tempest that is a household with tween or teen girls. The moodiness, the insults, the criticism. I've learned I laugh weird, and I sound drunk when I get silly, and my teeth often have food in them. I've learned I have no clue what a squad is, or what goals they might have. I've been learning this for a while from my biggest critics--my daughters, and usually I can handle it. And by handle it, I mean keep it in check and not take it personally--but rather use it as social teaching (it is polite to softly tell someone that the poppyseed bagel they just ate is in their teeth--it is not ok to say, Mom you are so disgusting you have food in your teeth--for example). This summer though it all started to weigh very heavily on me. Suddenly I could do nothing right, knew nothing and basically was wrong always.

You know typical teen stuff

But it hit me, it hit me hard.

I cried a lot this summer.

And I fell out of doing the things I once loved for lack of energy, as I felt that every ounce of my energy was focused on being enough.

Because that's what I felt--I felt like I wasn't enough, in a lot of ways. And I didn't feel like I could ask for help. Because what could anyone say to me that my husband wasn't already saying? Why would I believe my friends if I couldn't believe my best/longest friend?

I'm not sure what happened that changed it, but here are some things that all happened about the same time:
I got an infection under my toenail and I started on an antibiotic (actually I ended up a month on different antibiotics, before having a surgical procedure that finally ended the infection.--But this all started to change after the first one)
We went on vacation and..
I had a total meltdown where I walked out on saying goodnight to my children and went downstairs to the family room and cried--and my husband went up and lectured the girls on how mean some of their comments had been

I'm not sure why, but after that vacation, I just felt more like me. Like I was back. Like I could weather the storms of teenagers. But it left me a little weak.

Much like skipping exercise (another thing that's been happening--see Toe infection surgery above) makes you feel weaker for a while, and makes it hard to build up stamina so this has made me struggle at things that used to come easier.

So why say all this now? Well, I guess it is so I can explain why daily life is keeping me so busy. Why I had my latest start on halloween costumes ever (I started SATURDAY--like as in OCT 15!!!), and why I don't have a ton of stuff to show you.

I'm better and I get stronger at the day to day stuff all the time, and I am certainly feeling more like my old self. I'm getting so the day to day stuff doesn't exhaust me, so hopefully it won't be another month before I check in again. But you come here for the knitting, and knitting happened!

Reknit of my bloom striped cowl. Finally finished something in time for it's appropriate season

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I re-knit my bloom striped cowl. I felt like my original one was way too short (as it only wrapped around once and even then felt like a turtleneck. So I ripped it and knit it longer. I love it and even though we are back to 70 degree weather, I did manage to wear it twice!

Sneak peek at the costume I've started:

Unicorn 🦄 tail #costumes2016

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

A co-worker of mine is having a baby and I'm knitting a hat, kimono sweater and maybe booties. I need to finish this by November 7!

Just a little something that I'm knitting

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Monday, September 19, 2016

summer kicked my butt

"summer ran past me and kicked my butt on it's way out"

You know what? I started a blog entry 12 days ago and I never finished it and then oh man.

I never finished it because somehow I couldn't get pictures from my instagram to post here. Turns out that that was pretty much a mobile issue, and if I had just shoved everyone out of the way and used the desktop, I would be fine.

I almost don't want to talk about knitting because I've been knitting all summer long on a pair of socks and for some reason I flaked on numbers and the first sock:

First of the Ballgame/travel socks is done. A little snug.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on


Doesn't quite fit. It's a little tight on the heel and ankle. So rather than rip it out, I just decided to make the second sock bigger and then rip. Well I made the second sock too big, but realized it early enough that I only had to rip out about 3 inches of knitting.

So yeah, not the highlight of my summer.

I did however, embark on a new thing for me. I got a pressure canner for Christmas, and after having gotten it checked at the extension service, I dived in and made canned beans!

I was told to Instagram my finished beans. Have heard 7 pings!

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on


I'm hoping they taste good.

I also did the peaches

Time to put fruit in jars

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I water bath canned them, in the pressure canner because I can do 10 pints instead of 3 at a time. I also picked tomatoes and canned those puppies.

I'm set to have a busy weekend #tomatoes #canning

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

That took me 5 days. Seriously. But I tried both pressure canning and water canning and pressure canning sauce. We'll see how it goes.

I've been carting my sock to many many baseball games (minor league), and am close to done. I've also been working on a cowl that I ripped out ages ago. And planning some baby knitting that I should probably just start on. I will try try try not to be so long in updating again. As I should actually have things to show off soon. Things other than vacation:

Oh the mackinaw bridge!

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Quick note

ust a really quick note to say--I finished the Central Park Hoodie. And even though it is currently 85 degrees F outside right now, I made people model:

Central Park hoodie #finished

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Other people also wanted in on the action. Why yes, we do have AC.

#knitwear on a hot July day

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June update

So so much has happened since I last posted so I'd better get right to it.

1) My mother in law: Better. She's home now after 3 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks in a rehabilitation center/nursing home. Yesterday they gave her permission to walk without a walker or a cane, so progress continues!

2) Strawberry season: Underway! I have purchased 2 flats, then we went and picked yesterday and I picked 6 pounds--and I was trying to go light. Here is what I have made so far from all this strawberry goodness:
Jam of course. So far I have made 4 batches. I might be done. Last year I made 6 (plus 1 each of cherry, peach and peach vanilla) and I ended up with extras. I may make one more to be safe. Hey future me--5 might be the sweet spot!

Strawberry lemonade concentrate. I've made this the last few years. Ball's recipe. I find the squeezing of lemons to be the biggest pain in the butt, but worth it. I never get 7 pints out of it though. 5 full canned pints and about 3/4 of a pint that you need to use immediately. This year was no exception.

Strawberry Marshmallows! This was my first year making these and here's the verdict. They were delicious the first day. Then not so much. They got soggy REALLY fast. I can't decide if it was the advice to grease the pan with cooking spray (IF I make this again, I'll use butter) or the humidity. I still am toying with freezing the puree and making this in the winter.

Strawberry marshmallows #yum

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

A fresh Strawberry pie! No verdict on this yet as I JUST finished it. This is my mother in law's recipe, as she is the one who usually makes it. She's better, but not THAt much better and I would have hated to say--ok, now that you are up and about could you make me a pie? Instead I said--I'll make the pie, where's your recipe. Since her eyes lit up at the mention of pie and she smiled big when she realized I'd make the pie I knew I'd made the right call. Then when I told her on the phone that it was dinner dessert she told me she couldn't wait--this from someone building their appetite back so good news all around.

3) Sweater knitting!

I've been plugging away (in 90 degree heat at a baseball game even) on the Central Park hoodie for my daughter. I am ready to pick up the ribbing stitches (minimum 300) and because that sounded so exciting, I decided to sew in the sleeves first. Picture? yep:

Octo-sweater.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Yes, it looks like it has 3 arms, because the sides aren't sewn in and so the sides look like arms. MUST MAKE MYSELF PICK UP STITCHES. The pattern claims 300 will do it for this size, but I made it a little long so the plan is to Pick up as many stitches as it takes to get through one side, try for the same number on the other and be sure it is divisible by 4--easy peasy! (eyeroll) Ask me in a week how that went.

4) Landscaping. We had this hairbrained idea to replace the backyard pond we ripped out a few years ago--ok a dozen years ago. I'm attempting to spend at least 30 minutes on pulling up rocks, and weed barrier fabric every day. Failed yesterday. Trying to get the kids to help is hard because they are more scattered than I am. Stay tuned though as I have been taking progress pictures.