Sunday, April 22, 2018

And Then, I Let It Go

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward. -- Steve Maraboli
So... I've officially given up on the Never-Ending Thingy Thing. I believe this is the first project I've ever just given up on. I can't say I'm happy about it, especially after I've spent four months of my life trudging through it... but then The Day came.

It was a day like any other: got up, went to the gym, went to work, came home, walked the dog, made dinner, then settled down for an hour of knitting. It was going well. I looked down at the piece and could see it was going to be a "something," long enough to go around my neck and shoulders.... someday...

And then, while moving the stitches along my needles, I tugged a little too hard...

And I yanked off about ten stitches...

Which started to unravel...

I gasped. Then I tried for the rest of the night to get them all back on the needles, but I could tell I was missing stitches, missing decreases, missing yarn overs. I thought I could just fudge my way through it, but the next day, it was bothering me so much that I decided to rip back a few rows and see if I could correct it all.

Long story short: no. No, I couldn't fix it. It's a freaking mess.

So, I made a bird. His name is Peepity.

It felt good to finish something, even if it was a tiny wee project:

Seymour seemed to like it, anyway:

Yesterday, I spent most of the day dreaming about how I could make a top out of two 385 skeins of fingering weight yarn, one red and one dark grey. I had plans of colourwork, somehow incorpating one colour on each side. I came up with some interesting ideas.

And then, I changed my mind and started a shawl with some variegated yarn... because really, I just to make something pretty. The yarn is a skein gifted to me by my friend Tara a few years ago, in a colourway called "The Experiment." So far, the experiment looks promising:

The sunshine has come to Vancouver Island, so I took Seymour down to the marina with me for sunbathing and knitting. I picked up a small coffee and spilled it on me as I walked down. It's these days when I remember that no one can drink coffee and walk a dog at the same time. At least the scenery was nice:

It's interesting that, now that I've put away that silly project, I all of a sudden feel so much more creative and inspired. I guess this is a lesson for me. Sometimes, fighting your way through something that just isn't working really does cost you more than you think. I thought I'd figured that out already, but I guess I still need to learn more about it.

Time make dinner. Have a great week.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Fricken Elephant

If it wasn't for last minute, nothing would ever get done. -- Anonymous
Well, it's happened. Seymour has claimed my knitting:

He's the spitting image of Rascal. Maybe it's a thing they learn in puppy school: you MUST sleep on knitting at every possible chance:

Perhaps Seymour has mistaken it for a blanket, given that it never really changes much and can usually be found abandoned on the couch. I'm predicting that The Never-Ending Thingy Thing will be THE project of the year 2018.

As the weekend approached, I was so desperate to have something to share on this so-called creativity blog that I decided on Saturday morning that I was going to have a finished project by the end of this weekend, come hell or high water...

And ironically, it has rained nearly all weekend. Hmm.

But I've literally just finished this tonight, and darn it all, I'm going to share it. Behold: The Fricken Elephant:

I named it after I saw this photo floating around on Twitter. As a former teacher, I find it absolutely hilarious, and altogether true. English is such a funny language, and I say that as an ESL student myself:

My Fricken Elephant is quite a bit cuter. I originally planned to make it plain grey, but as per usual, I thought I might run out, since I was only working from a small leftover ball of Cascade 220. So, he got a colourful back decoration:

I used nearly every last scrap to make the head. I had a backup plan of giving him brown hair in case I couldn't finish the top of the scalp, but luckily I just made it to the top. That meant he got bullseye-style ears as well, which I think are quite cute, especially since I've sewn them on slightly askew:

So, there you have it. I think this is the year of small weekend projects while the epic cobweb project gets picked away at during the week. I don't know if I'll do another knitted toy anytime soon. They're small, but man are they fiddly, especially when you're dealing with the malarkey of sewing in ends of stripey trunks and ears...

... but I have a little dream of making a wee monster with a cowboy hat. We shall see.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Easter Hedghog

A fool may be known by six things: anger without cause; speech without profit; change without progress; inquiry without object; putting trust in a stranger; and mistaking foes for friends. --Arabian Proverb

And now, all of a sudden, it's April. I can barely believe it. It snuck up on me, as stealthy as a pup under a coffee table:

It feels strange to me that it's also Easter Sunday today. I can't remember Easter ever falling on April 1st, but here it is. I don't feel very Easter-y this year and I'm not sure why. I guess that's why I felt the need to make a felted hedgehog with rainbow prickles instead of a bunny:

I'd been thinking about making another felted sheep, but a friend brought up a tutorial she had seen online for felted hedgehogs, and well, it seemed like the thing to do:

The body is made on a wire frame covered with some hand-carded wool someone gave me. The white pillowy frame around his face is combed merino top, and the ears are a combination of some llama roving and alpaca locks. Of course, the crowning glory is the dyed locks that make up his "prickles." I'm particularly pleased with how nicely those dyed locks worked out. I thought it might look too clown-ish, but I find it quite charming. And I'm no expert, but I think it even might make for good camouflage, but as I am not actually a hedgehog I couldn't say for sure. The kink in the locks also give it quite a coiffed look: possibly the most styled prickles a hedgehog ever had:

The other hedgehogs in the collection barely even looked twice:

We've had a visitor in the office for the last couple of weeks: Levi, a two-year old chihuahua. He's the quintessential little dog: quite the little general, and quite the lap dog:

And he's also quite distracting when I'm trying to get work done. Oh well:

Luckily, Seymour didn't seem to mind too much. He sniffed me ever so carefully when I got home, but he figures he could eradicate the other doggie's smell by napping on me every chance he gets:

Ruff life, as they say:

The never-ending thingy thing project is still going on, and I'm just going to keep hammering at it until I'm done, I guess. In the meantime, here are some lemon poppy seed muffins I made today:

And here is the very non-Easter-y meal for tonight: slow-cooker chicken with orange, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and a bit of soy sauce. It'll do the job, I think:

I think next week might be the time to break the monogamous knitting promise. There are just too many goodies in my yarn stash waiting for me, and I'm using the never-ending thingy thing project as an excuse to be lazy. Perhaps I'll dig out something spring-coloured for a change. Or maybe I'll try another felted creature... perhaps a psychedelic mountain goat...

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Never-Ending Thingy Thing

I've learned a lot this year.. I learned that things don't always turn our the way you planned, or the way you think they should. And I've learned that there are things that go wrong that don't always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I've learned that some broken things stay broken, and I've learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you. --Jennifer Weiner
It's been a long week... not a difficult one, but a tiring one. Daylight Savings really kicked my butt this year and on top of that, it was our first week with our Mr. Seymour. We're tired, but we made it:

He's a sweet little creature, complete with his own darling habits and a few naughty ones. He does well in the car, usually just curling up and going to sleep during the ride. He sleeps well at night, even if he does insist on his bed being at my feet on top of our bed. It's a good thing we upgraded to a king-sized mattress: we'd never get any sleep around here.

The Humane Society had scheduled a dental cleaning for him last Friday. They do that with all little dogs, as they tend to be a bit spoiled with soft food and not enough exercise to keep their mouths in order. It was nice to get it out of the way, but he was sad and groggy and sore for most of the evening:

He bounced back pretty quickly the next day, and he felt well enough to go out on an adventure with me:

And today, he got his first bath. He was terribly unimpressed by that, and equally unimpressed with the indignity of having his ears turned back to dry out:

But it's because of him that's there's any knitting at all on the blog right now. We washed his bed and while it was drying I let him lie on a blanket I knitted ago that has never seen much use:

And yes, through it all, I pick away at this thing: The Never-Ending Thingy Thing. I have no idea what it's going to be. I just know that I haven't even reached half the skein and I'm terribly uninspired by it:

Still, the fabric is nice, I guess:

And yet, I keep working away on it, an hour here and an hour there. I keep saying to myself, "I'll give it another week, and then I'm going to start something else," but I have yet to make good on that threat. Seriously, though, it's March and I have yet to finish anything. Perhaps it's time to break the monogamous knitting vow... or maybe I could kinda cheat and felt something instead. It's nearly spring here, so I think something NOT grey would be in order...

Because we've certainly got a lot of grey around here... dark grey, almost black, with a sweet little face. That'll do just nicely. Have a great week.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Suddenly Seymour

We're hardwired for connection. There's no arguing with the bioscience. -- Brene Brown
And just like that, we got a dog.

Meet Mr. Seymour. We brought him home yesterday, and already I can't imagine our lives without him.

After we lost Rascal, I really couldn't imagine ever wanting another dog. It was a kind of heartbreak I had never imagined, and even now I can't think of him without a quiver in my chest and throat. He was so very special.

It was only a month or so ago when I thought it might be possible for me to have another dog in my life. And as soon as I thought I wanted one, I was afraid to look for one. I wasn't sure I could handle the vulnerability of loving something so much again.

And yet, we started looking. In (poor) effort to armour myself against the disappointment of not finding one, I told myself it wasn't going to happen. We'd never find another one as nice as Rascal. I looked at pages and pages of animals with rescue organizations all over Vancouver Island and on the mainland, and some of them looked close, but not quite right.

And then, I saw Mr. Seymour. He was with the Humane Society in Victoria. And I knew. And then, I was sure we wouldn't get him. Optimism is not my strong point these days.

But then, I started filling in the application with the Humane Society. I told them everything as honestly as I could: that the hubby worked from home so he wouldn't be alone all day, that we'd lost Rascal to the tumour, that we'd spoken to our landlords and they agreed that we could have a dog.

I even told them how hard it was for me when Rascal died... and that I waited so long because I didn't want another dog to have to live up to him.

I submitted the application and declared, "Well, we won't get him. He's so popular, and we're too far away. They probably won't want to do the home visit with us." And then, I did my very best to put it out of my mind.

A week or so passed, and I spent it feeling lonely and looking at other organizations, hoping I'd see another dog. Then on Monday night, my phone rang.

My phone almost never rings. I assumed it was a wrong number and let it go to voicemail. I checked it right away and my chest leaped.

It was the Humane Society, wanting to talk to me about our application for Mr. Seymour.

I called back right away, and the lady on the line told me that ours was the best application, and that we could speak with the foster family and ask any questions we wanted, and if we wanted to meet him and if we liked him, he was ours. She told me she'd get the foster to call us the next day.

The next day, I watched my phone obsessively. By noon, I was convinced they'd found out something about us that ruled us out. By dinnertime, I'd given up. And then, my phone rang again and I took a deep breath and answered it.

The next thing I knew, we were making arrangements to come meet him.

The next day, I had a list of things to buy for his arrival.

He is a sweetie. He's eight-ish years old, and we're told he's a puggle - a pug/poodle cross, though so far everyone he's met thinks he's a shih tzu. He loves to walk, loves squeaky toys, and can fall asleep in five seconds flat if you give him a soft place to lie down. He comes running if he hears a package rustling. He goes crazy when he sees animals on tv: dogs, cats, monkeys, goats... and sometimes pizza. It was funny the first time, but we're trying to break him of the habit, cuz man there are alotta pizzas on tv:

He's similar-looking to Rascal, except he doesn't have any white bits and he's smaller and adorably more stout that he was. I had to change his collar because his own was a bit thin, so I put Rascal's on him. And I admit, when I looked over at him last night, a shiver went through me: it was like Rascal was home again. Even the hubby catches himself calling him that from time to time:

And I admit, that was hard.

But he isn't Rascal. He's Seymour, with his own quirks and lovable bits. He's a bit braver and he certainly has his own mind. I can’t tell you how it felt to see him running up to me and wagging his tail when I can home from the gym this morning. I don't know if he loves us yet, but he knows already he can snuggle into my arms on a long car ride. And I already know we're going to love him for the rest of his life.

I guess I could go knit for a while now. Maybe after we go for a walk. Happy Sunday.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Labyrinths, Cake and Zen Knitting

There will
be a day
when the weight of it all
will be lifted,
and you’ll find strength
in new-“okays,”
even amidst the memories
that took long
to fade away.
And new mercies
will ever-find you
and you
will be carried.
And for the better,
things will change.
–Morgan Harper Nichols
We just got back from a weekend away at our favourite cabin. We go so frequently that I got an "On this day" reminder on Facebook showing the photo I take every single time we go. I guess we're regulars now:

We decided to visit a new place this time around: Providence Farm. I'd read about this place years ago when we first moved here in a local magazine, and I've wanted to visit ever since then. I'm very glad we finally did:

Providence Farm is a therapeutic community which runs a program for people of all kinds of backgrounds who might benefit from the tranquility that working on the farm provides. It has a big old building on site that began its life as a school. The entire property is now run by the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association and operates today as an independent, working, therapeutic, secular organization serving adults and seniors with a variety of mental health challenges, developmental and intellectual disabilities and age-related illnesses.

You can also sign up for an allotment on the farm where you can grow your own organic vegetables:

And hang out with the free-range chickens:

Around the back of the property are some other critters:

And the General Store, which is also a coffee shop:

They also sell items made by participants of many of the programs, including the in-house textiles program which teaches wool spinning, knitting and weaving:

You can also walk the labyrinth. It's a type of meditation, where you slowly follow the path around until you reach the centre. The long, slow path is meant to help you slow down and quieten your mind. It even has a "shortcut" route if you find you need to get there a bit quicker. The result is the same: you have the journey in, the centering in the middle, and the journey back out. It was a good thing for me to try out:

Afterward, we went into Cowichan Bay, which is always a treat, no matter what the weather. This day was particularly pleasant:

We met this cat, who walked straight up to us to say hello. A fellow washing his windows told us his name was Mutumbo, and he lives in one of the houseboats in the bay. "He greets all of the people and checks on all the boats, and he goes up and sits in the harbour master's chair." It seemed like the right kind of life for him:

I have recently developed a fascination with doors, and seeing this one with a cat in it made it a photo opportunity I could not ignore:

And well, sometimes doors are a little sad... especially when you're a doggie waiting outside a bakery:

It was a good change of scenery for me, a good distraction from every day life. I even did some knitting on my epic cobweb lace project, but really, it's not worth looking at just yet. You'd swear I was just showing you the same photo from three weeks ago. If anything, it's nearly a meditation project - doing the same thing over and over again gives you the chance to empty your mind. I imagine it's similar to raking the gravel in a Japanese Zen garden: the same task over and over until you find some kind of enlightenment. And I feel like I need that right now.

It's probably not a secret that my last job was very hard on me, and leaving it was especially hard. I won't go into the details, but right now is a time of transition and recovery for me. I notice that I'm moving a bit slower, I need more sleep, and I'm more sensitive and emotional right now - even for me.

I've been changing things around for myself to try to help myself through this. I'm not exercising as hard as I was, and my routine is not so rigid. I get up a little later, and if I can't muster up the energy, I skip the gym or the pool instead of pushing through it. And I eat different things. I gave up my morning "power smoothie" because I was getting sick of them. Four and a half years of the same thing for breakfast will do that to you. And really, I just wanted something to chew on for a change.

So I've been eating this. It's a version of baked oatmeal with lentils and protein powder. And it's got canned peaches at the bottom of it, which I admit, didn't look great when I flipped it over, but I'm pretty confident it's going to taste great:

I'm very conscious that it is nearly three months since I completed a project, so part of me is desperate to produce something. So I made a cake. It helps that it's the hubby's birthday tomorrow. It seemed like the thing to do.

If you have not yet made a Lemon Madeira Cake, might I suggest that you make one in the near future? It's easy. Here's the recipe. You should do it. I'll sit here and eat a slice while you do it. I might even meditate while I wait.

Anyway, here I sit yet again on a Sunday night, wishing I had some darn knitting share for a change but trying to be ok with not having it. But I think, like all the rest of stuff in life right now, it'll all work out somehow. I mean, it's got to. I can't knit the same thing FOREVER, could I?

I better not ask such questions. Have a great week.