I’ve been absent.

I’ve thought so many times about blogging, but this is the first time I’ve even logged into WordPress in months.

I’ve done a lot of knitting over the last few months. The most recent things I’ve completed are in the widget to the side, but I’m going to share some others.

Elephant

Elephant bib

First up is a crocheted elephant bib, which I made for Cousin P for her baby shower on Jan. 14. She actually had her baby yesterday (hooray!) and all reports say that their little girl is happy and healthy, and mom and dad are settling in. I saw a picture, and it is a darn cute baby. Cousin P has the nursery all decorated in owls, and I’m kinda in love. The baby may get a handknit owl or two. We’ll see.

One of my other cousins, Cousin D, is expecting twins within the next month or so. (Cousin D is a cousin to me and Cousin P; they were born about two months apart. How strange that they are having babies so close together!) Cousin D also has a little boy who just turned 5, and he is a handful. I’m looking to make Evelyn Evelyn and Elephant Elephant for the twins (a boy and a girl), and then a little something for the 5-year-old. I don’t want him to feel left out, and with twin babies coming, I think he’s going to get a shock.

Summer flies

Summer flies in winter

Next up is this funky green shawl. It was knit in a worsted weight, and I thought it would be way quicker than it was. Turns out knitting a picot bind-off for a bajillion stitches takes awhile.

I think I’m going to send this to a friend’s mom. She is very nice and has made me feel welcome to the various family functions I’ve attended. She’s always admired my handknits, so I thought she might like one of her own. She even gave me some of her first handspun, which I think is pretty awesome. She’s a pro at spinning now, and has come up with some really lovely yarns. I think she spins on her wheel 2 hours a day, or something ridiculous like that.

Earth and Sky

Earth and Sky

Lastly, Earth and Sky. I joined the Westknits KAL for this one; it was released as a mystery shawl through last August. It took me a little longer to get it done, because I procrastinate sometimes. (I mean, look at how often I update the blog. Seriously.) I’m really happy with the color combinations – they’re all yarns I’ve had in my stash. The variegated one has been in my stash since my very first go at knitting; I think it’s the first yarn that came from an actual yarn store instead of a big box craft store.

I ended up giving it to my future sister-in-law for Christmas, and I think she enjoyed it. It’s very soft and squishy. I may need to make another.

Ok, we’ll call that good for now. Look, ma! I blogged!

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It is June.

Remember that time I promised photos of stash? Yeah, that’s not going to happen for a while. I didn’t get to it in April, and I head to the northlands for Dorian next Thursday. My next chance at a good yarn stash organization is looking like August. August! (Or maybe I should do it in small chunks …)

Speaking of yarny things, I made a swan. This one’s crocheted. I made it for the May Charms class for the House Cup on Ravelry – the challenge was to “craft something that represents a link between two people or locations”. I chose the swan to represent my great-grandmother Valerie. She always had a lot of swan figurines around the house, and even a few of those swan-shaped planters out on the patio.

Swan

Gustava the Swan

I recently decided to make an ancestral altar, having heard a few folks talk about them on a couple of different podcasts. I thought something handmade would be a nice addition to it. So far I’ve got the swan and a watch that belonged to my grandfather, who died last August. It’s not a very big start – I don’t even have any photos yet. Well, ok I have a few on my computer, but I’d like to print them out and put them in a nice frame or something.

Right now I’m really getting into Dorian/summer camp/escape from work mode. I’ve been thinking about door decorations, and decided there may be an “incognito” theme. And by incognito, I mean mustaches. Bandwagon? Yup. I’ll totally get on the mustache bandwagon. (Who am I kidding? I already am. I bought this shirt on Woot a few weeks ago. Handlebar mustache! I love puns.)

I probably won’t get another post out before camp – although if I really want to ignore work on my birthday next Monday maybe I’ll post then. Either way, hopefully I can get myself together and have another one this month.

Stash.

you know what I mean.

I was listening to the latest episode of Cast On the yesterday (ok, so I’m a little behind. It was put out more than a month ago), and Brenda mentioned her annual airing of the stash. I like that. For a couple of years I did the “Flash Your Stash”, an April 1 tradition in the knitting community. (Ok, I’m not sure if it’s still a tradition as I haven’t participated for a while, but it was popular a couple of years ago.) Essentially, you take pictures of your whole stash, and then you share them. In 2006, knit and tonic had an excellent photo of herself luxuriating with favorite stash in a bathtub. Fantastic.

I haven’t flashed my stash for a few years, and I think it’s time to do so. I have very few photographs of the yarn that’s stashed on Ravelry, and I really have no excuse for that other than laziness. I don’t think I have all of my stash catalogued, either – some of the newer yarns I’ve gotten (like from last weekend’s Heartland Fiberpalooza) aren’t in my Ravelry stash, and neither are some random selections for one reason or another. So I think I might shoot for that in April: air and flash the stash, and update my Ravelry catalogue. It’s a good opportunity to organize my yarn, at the very least. Since I have it squirreled away in various places in the house (the closet, a trunk, the entertainment center, an old-school suitcase … ), this would probably be a very good idea.

To get nice photos, I may try to make a lightbox with items from around the house. I might use this tutorial, or perhaps this one. I don’t have the fancy camera flashes the author of the first tutorial has, so I’ll have to adapt that, but I think I can do it. I’ll just have to keep the cats out of the box – a harder task than you might think.

Burgy

Burgy, Queen of Yarn

Burgy likes to nest in pretty much any container she fancies. I’ve seen her in the yarn bucket, a laundry basket and a small letter-size basket. She’s a nut.

I will probably have to upgrade my Flickr account to pro status again, if I’ll be uploading a bunch of photos. I’m thinking a close-up of the fiber and then a whole-skein shot, so two per each stashed item … this will take a while.

Irony.

… or how I lost my religion.

But first, a brief note. Yes, I know it’s been a very long time since I posted. I lost my blogging mojo – last year was a year of many things, both joys and trials. I would like to hop back on the blogging bandwagon now, and hopefully it will stick. I make no guarantees.

Now, back to the irony story at hand. I want to tell you about the time I lost my Christian beliefs.

Here’s the ironic part: the decline and fall of my Christianity started the day I was baptized. As I reflect on my religiosity, or lack thereof in recent years, I’ve pretty much pinpointed that event as the key point in the shift of my spiritual beliefs. I’ve debated blogging about this, but frankly I need to get it out of my head.

I’m not sure what it was about that day, but something changed. In my family’s church (Disciples of Christ), baptism is through immersion. There’s a funky little baptismal tank in the sanctuary; it has a big window that’s covered by curtains most of the time. Baptism pretty much goes like this: put on clothes that can get wet, go in the dunk tank with the pastor, the pastor asks you if you believe in Jesus and you say yes, then the pastor leans you back (or was it forward?) to get you completely immersed, family takes pictures, then you get out and change back into your normal clothes. My problem came at the immersion part; I suppose I just didn’t trust the pastor enough or something, but I now refer to my baptism as “the time I almost drowned”. It was a very strange thing, and it seemed pretty insignificant at the time; mostly I felt dumb for choking on water.

Time went by. I attended church camp for five summers at the local affiliated conference center. I made some pretty great friends there, and we had fun and fellowshipped together and got emotional and all that. But then one year – either my second or third year in high school camp – I found out that one of my friends was Wiccan, or at least he knew things about Wicca. (I know, strange place to be finding pagan folk, but it was high school after all. Everyone is weird in high school in some way.) I had just been fiddling around with some popsicle sticks during free time, and had doodled some random elemental things on each one. (I don’t quite remember which elements I chose, but I want to say it was similar to traditional Chinese elements. I remember having metal in there, at any rate.) My friend made some sort of comment about them, and then said to keep it a secret.

Later that summer, after we’d been home for a few weeks, I got a letter from the friend detailing Wicca a little more. At the end, he instructed me to burn the letter – lest it “fall into the wrong hands” or something, I suppose. Needless to say, I got curious. I started doing what any other teen in the late 90s would do: looking information up on the internet. I found correspondence charts, explanations of the elements, cool poetry … myriad items began to pile up. I started to print out some of my favorite things and collect it in a broken binder, which I must have hidden in my room somewhere. I remember one time my mom saw the notebook; looking at the picture of the pentagram with the elements labeled, she asked me where god was, and I mumbled something about spirit being like god. She didn’t ask anything else, and I found a better hiding place. I never really committed myself to Wicca, or even to some generic pagan path, but it was always at the back of my mind, waiting and brewing its own thoughts.

Let’s fast-forward. Attending a Lutheran college didn’t change my leanings at all; I stayed pretty much non-religious in college. (You should read the fourth paragraph on my About page for a little anecdote about that, which is also a lesson in thinking before you open your mouth.) Now, however, is where more irony comes into play: I’m a church choir director. At the same church where I “almost drowned”. Actually, I choose all of the music now, effective since January. And this is the third year I’ve been singing with their praise band. (That was a struggle. I really didn’t want to do it, but frankly, they need my help. Not to be mean or pompous or anything, just truthful.)

Life is strange, and also oddly circuitous. I have so much control and input over a significant part of each service – and I don’t even practice the religion. Not inwardly, anyway. Outwardly I put on the mask of Christianity and play along, while inwardly I’m reflecting on things religious, though decidedly non-Christian. Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated, because I feel as though I’m in stasis – even though I’m trying, even struggling at some points to shift my position, my beliefs. Over the last year or so, I’ve begun putting form to those pagan thoughts that started brewing so long ago, and I think I’m starting to find my spiritual home.

I suppose I’ll leave it at that for now. Next post I’ll have more knitting content, even though I’ve felt a bit drained of that over the last couple of months. It’s good to be back, and I hope to post a bit more.

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Spring has sprung

… and it’s about time.

White violets

Look at the pretty purple veining.

Wild violets might be my favorite flower of spring, because they come fairly early on in the season. I have both purple and white violets at my house. I love the white ones the most, because when I was growing up we only ever had the purple ones in our yard, and to see a white one was really special. I have a lot of the white ones now.

The magnolias are almost done blooming for the year; they were in their prime last week. Now petals litter the ground, and a few final blossoms cling to the branches.

Magnolia petals

Petals blanket the ground at my friend's house down the street.

My own yard has a somewhat different carpet. I have the bane of many folks’ existence: dandelions and what I’ve always known as ‘Creeping Charlie’ (it’s also called ground ivy). I don’t mind them so much, though. The complementary colors of the lavender flowers in the ivy and the bright yellow are kind of nice to look at. Sometimes I almost forget they’re weeds. The violets that were the main floral focus have been over taken by this dastardly duo, though I can still spot a few (mostly white) violets here and there.

Weeds

My yard, meanwhile, is full of weeds.

One of my other favorite spring things is the lilac. My mom’s a big lilac fan; last year for Mother’s Day she and I went to the lilac arboretum and wandered around, sniffing and admiring the myriad varieties there.

Lilacs

Lilacs are blooming.

This year it seems like the lilacs are blooming a bit early. Of course, we had a really cracked out winter. I’m pretty sure the verylargeshrubbery that spans my front porch (um, it’s actually a huge forsythia), bloomed already this year, and very early at that. Now there are only a few flowers along the bottom of the shrub. Usually it looks something like this. I wonder if the lilacs will hold on through Mother’s Day. I usually take a few sprigs to my mom throughout the spring when they’re blooming …

Adventures in driving

I joined a couple of friends on a road trip to Minnesota this past weekend. We took the looong way there, too. Generally if I want to go to the Twin Cities, I’ll just drive north for about 5 hours. This time, though, I drove east to the Quad Cities area. Then we drove north up the eastern side of Iowa, dropped off a dog with her, er, “grandparents”, and trekked back west to the interstate — the very same one I’d usually take directly north. I think the trip took about 7 hours from the Quad Cities to the Twin Cities. Lots of car knitting time for me.

We got a chance to get rush tickets for La bohéme at the Minnesota Opera (the Ordway — so pretty!) on Friday, and we really enjoyed the show. One of the performers was a classmate of ours in undergrad, and it was really fantastic to see him perform in a professional show. (We decided that he was third male, which is a pretty sizable part. He got his own aria and everything.)

Mario hats

Bandbabe and Aramad were happy to model the hats.

Generally we just spent the rest of the weekend hanging out, drinking champagne, and catching up. I also got to give the above hats (Chain Chomp and Goomba) to their intended recipients, and I think they really liked them. Bandbabe and Aramad were more than happy to model them for me before I gave them away. I’m really happy with how the knitting turned out on them both.

Meanwhile I’m knitting hard on Glimfeather, and I really hope I can manage to finish it by the end of the month. That’s not very far from now, and I’m officially halfway through the rows. I’ve got a new 47-inch circular needle, which is really excellent. The stitches were getting really crowded on the other, which was 32 inches or something like that. I should probably take another photo now that I can actually give an idea of the size, since the stitches can be all spread out at the moment.

That’s all for now; I’ve got knitting to do.

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