Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New beginnings

There, unfortunately, has been a surplus of health factors for myself on top of very recent family crisises that now changes the immediate course of my life. I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas if I an unable to return back to blogland sooner than the 24th or 25th.

I will announce the winners of the ornament charity & send their prizes after everything has settled down. To those in the Winter club, I am trying my best to send the packages within the next day or so. It is very hard to work among these troubling things, as well as a torn ligament/muscle in my right elbow. I can't even put my hair up in a ponytail at this point. Thanks in advance for your patience, and I promise that everything will get settled that needs to be settled.

Please keep my family, my soon-to-be family, my neighbor friend (Craig, undergoing complications from surgery), and if you have time...myself in your prayers. Thank you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Deck out the tree 4 charity" (ends the 12th!) Contest too!

NOTE: This free pattern has been removed 10/17/12. It may or may not return, but if it does, it will be tweaked and pdf’ed and available for an inexpensive $1.99 price.
 
A simple gift of hand-knit (or crocheted or sewn) ornaments to lighten up a stranger's heart.
Please tell your crafty friends about this project & post this to your blog if possible. The charity pattern is posted in the bottom of the post.
The day after Thanksgiving, my whole family gathered yet again, but this time to visit my Grandfather in the nursing home. This is the same grandfather that underwent major heart surgery a while back, didn't recover, and started to deteriorate and have part of his foot removed because he couldn't walk...because he couldn't recover. I know, sick cycle. This was the first time that I visited him in the nursing home, and I was appalled at the sight of these lonely nursing home residents barely doing anything but staring at other people's visitors or falling asleep in front of a large TV in the "theater room" because the nurses are too busy or unwilling to wheel them around all day. The activity coordinator barely provides activities, doesn't even own a keyboard for visitors playing carols during the holidays, and residents are surely bored out of their minds all day. Every day. The loneliness of boredom and the every-day nothingness is seen in their eyes. It's enough to burn your heart.
I watched one elderly woman try to wheel herself in another direction and had trouble doing so. Every time a nurse walked down the hall, she tiredly tried flagging them down with her weak and shaky arm while also giving each the "puppy eyes" look. She craved attention. From anyone. Nurses. Residents. Other resident's visitors. All ignored her, leaving her with all the more heart-broken eyes. I asked one of the nurses why he kept ignoring her as he walked down the hall with an IV stand while she constantly tried to flag him down. He responded in a nonchalant way, "oh, she always does that." Yeah, and? Was my response. She's still a human being, and she might actually need help this time. All of them do.

This whole paragraph will seem a little weird, but I had a dream Saturday night (the day after I visited my grandfather) that I was in some sort of wreck and lost all of my money and possessions and for some reason, barely clothed besides a long shirt. I was very embarrassed walking among all the people in my dream. I ended up begging some people on the subway to loan me a couple of dollars so I could go to a Dollar Tree or thrift shop to buy shorts, pants, pj bottoms....anything to not be half-nude. It was amazing how much I had to plead with these people to donate a just few bucks. I ended up waking up in the morning with tears streaming down my cheeks. I haven't balled in my dreams for quite a long time. The dream was intense. Disturbing. An actual reality for someone around this planet, I'm sure. It reminded me of how cold it is getting now, and how I should be putting more efforts into charity knits. The message that I really need to become more proactive with charity knits was reiterated by the Homily the same morning that I woke up for Sunday mass. It was all about "The least that you do for my people, you do for me" and how you should live your life like the world would end tomorrow and make a difference in someone's life. (Something like that.) Once I got the message that this homily was corresponding to my feelings all weekend, I instantly thought of how I was going to solve my huge Christmas knitted-gift list. I wasn't going to knit anyone a gift. All of these people who were asking for knitted gifts from me have everything. They are loved. They have money. They have a warm house to live in,... and friends. I thought back to these nursing home residents and how they might not even get a single gift in the mail, let alone a card...or a visit from any family members. Even if I could knit them all something small, no matter how insignificant it may seem to the bystander, it would be something hand-made... and for them. Not shared, like all of the amenities in the facility. Something small for them to enjoy that's theirs. I will also spend the other time working on my "prayer squares" afghans, from the other organization I started, and hopefully knitting more scarves and such for PADS shelters.

So, without further ado (and hopefully you read most of above to get the gist), I'm starting a new charity organization that is devoted to knitting each and every single 100+ resident from that nursing home a knit holiday ornament: "Deck Out That Tree!" I am asking each and every one of you to see if you can find it in your time this week to knit some ornaments with the pattern I provided below. If it turned out that only a dozen people sent me just a few ornaments, it would save a tremendous amount of time on my part. I can only do so much, and knit so fast in under a month. Whether or not you do it as a competition, the top 3 people to send me the most ornaments will receive free knitting yarn & goodies (see contest info below). Any other peeps will receive a new free KUAS pattern via email. SO PLEASE LEAVE A STICKY NOTE WITH YOUR NAME & EMAIL ADDRESS in the package so that I send you your stuff. I really feel like I was meant to do/start this project this year. But I know realistically, I'm gonna need a lot of help from you all. I have a small tree in our living room that will be filled up during the week with all of the knit organizations. I hope to fill the entire tree up.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Teaser

Alas. The end of November. It's time to bundle up. Enjoy the flurries with a cup of hot cocoa or tea and sit back with a great novel. Or, maybe it's time to knit while maybe even doing all the above. One thing is for sure, you're neck is ready for some fuzzy action. A teaser of my NY Neck-wrap from the "Sex in the City" knit club. It's a multi-textured wrap with lovely I-cords to give a new "twist" to the whole scarf thing. The movie screams pink, so I did the "default" color to the club, but I gave all of my members the choice of their favorite bold color to be more personalized.

Oh, and of course (a very late, but promised) picture with my shorter hair.

The geese have been parading along our backyards for quite a while now. They've been plumping up for their Great Flight while also taking the time to enjoy life for a bit. You know, "smell the roses," or ice skate.
That's our pond they are standing on. Apparently, Jesus made a visit not too long ago. Not that I like the poop and all, but I think geese are fascinating creatures. It's always interesting to look at each flock. See which one is the papa. You'll notice that there will always be one standing guard while the others eat or sleep. And, it's always a funny thing when the geese land on the ice, not realizing that the water has frozen. Whoops! *thunk!*
Happy Advent! Look for a post tomorrow with a holiday pattern & a cry for your help!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble


Hey everyone! I'm just in here to wish you all a wonderful & relaxing Thanksgiving day!

"May your bounty be plenty,
...your friends many,
and may your cups never empty!"

Safe rides to all who travel and easy cooking to those who are hosting!

May we never forget how much we have, and never take for granted our family & friends.

I'm gonna go make this real quick to bring to Joe's & my family's Thanksgivings today. See ya!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back from the dead

JOE & FAMILY MEMBERS: DON'T READ THIS POST!!

I'm finally in the land of the living. Mere hours after I got back from Iowa, I spend the rest of the night with a bad 'bout of the stomach flu. I had to skip 3 days of work, while still spending the rest of the week healing & getting rid of the pesky stomach ache.

However, I'm back and ready to get my life back in order. I've finished my November knitting club, "Sex in the City," and already have the project planned for the final installement of my "watching the movies" knitting club, "a Christmas Carol." The project really inspired my movie choice (which was recommended, anyways), and I reckon that any person-religiously diverse or no-would enjoy the pattern and yarn colorway just the same.


It's time to work on those Christmas WIPs now! Here's my list:
Grandpa: Bear's pillow
Uncles: Scarves
Mom: earthy colored clogs
MIL: clogs?
Joe: ribbed Hawkeye socks

I have this slouchy two-color hat idea brewing in my head, but I can't knit it up, because I really need to get cracking on these projects first! Whaa!

I checked my 2008 reading list and I have only 23 books finished. I read 27 books last year. I need to finish at least 4 books, or I let myself down (my goal is to equal or at least beat the previous year by one book). I'm on books 24 & 25 right now. I really didn't feel like I was slugging around though.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. I've gotta make sure my recipients don't look at my blog until after the holidays, first!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Legend of the Seeker

OMG. I heard rumors about my old favorite fantasy series being made into a movie or TV series...and I finally found out that it already has three episodes out!

This television series is based (hopefully a little loosely) off of Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series. There are many books, and much violence-which I didn't care for-so I was glad to see that the 2-hour premier of the first two episodes captured the main events while watering down the evil. The books are really good, if you like epic books with romance. I'm guessing that the first season will cover Goodkind's first book, "Wizard's First Rule," and if it's a hit, the next seasons will cover the following books? I still have to research it. Joe and I bought the premier off of itunes the other night because the videos aren't posted free yet, and I'm thinking of buying the next episode because it aired yesterday.

Interested in seeing the trailer?

So far, it seems that they are following pretty close to the book's main plot & casted pretty good characters for the roles. I would have liked to see Kahlan with longer hair & Richard as a taller & more "rustic" character. Oh well. The actors do grow on you though.

Friday, November 07, 2008

playing the "College Chick" for the weekend

I just drove out to Iowa City to visit my guy. Meet you knitties back later! I'm gonna go have some fun this weekend. Wonder if there are some parties going on... :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tuning up

People who know me either know me for my music skills, or knitting skills. I rarely come across a person who is in tune with my personality in its entirety. I recently have pondered this phenomenon, and have decided to break out of my "double-life" shell, and show the world that I am not just a fiber artist & I am not just a musician. I am both. I actually have 11 years of formal training with a concert pianist, which ended a little sourly my junior year of high school. It was more of a breaking out into different things, focusing more on my school work, liking to practice voice more, things like that. My teacher and I had different ideas of what a pianist is, and we both-I think-in our own way knew it was time to part with eachother.

Lately, I have been getting the musician's cravings to play some more music. To touch the keys. Show people what the words "dynamics" and "painting the picture" really means. I guess that after teaching piano for so many months, you inevitably desire to play again. Reminisce about the "old days." I do admit to my inadequate ability to sight-read music well for the level that I am at...but I savor my one true ability that is crucial to any great performance: proper dynamics. This is the different between being robotic and colorful. Take liberties when allowed. Use dynamics. Add in your own. That, I do owe a great debt to my teacher.

What really got me thinking though was listening to some of the last pieces that I played before I quit and took my long "vacation." Thiswas the last piece I studied with my teacher. I liked the beginning movement more than the middle...but here is a piece that I enjoyed the middle more. They are both by Chopin. He is a genius. Liszt is also brilliant, and I am trying to revitalize This piece too, since it's so melodic and peaceful. To an extent. Ha ha.

I practiced for over 4 hours yesterday. Yeah, I couldn't believe it either. I am trying to prepare 10 Christmas peices for a CD I'm making to hand-out to my loved ones for Christmas. Most are adaptions of our traditional favorites. The album will be called "Still, Still, Still." If you're a Manneheim Steamroller fan, You'll recognize the "Still, Still, Still," "The Holly & the Ivy," and "Emmanuel" from my Cd. Other pieces from Lorna Line and other artists have have really good adaptions of my favorite peices.
It was way too nice outside to not walk around and take some more Fall shots! I'm enjoying the great zoom on my camera, as geese are not too friendly when you get close. I actually am afraid of those beasts. They nearly attacked me once.
Gorgeous.

And of course some knitting. I just finished the chest shaping... and this WIP is awaiting more yarn so that I can start the arm shaping. Until then, it's enjoying the fresh air. And I'll spin a little more. And read some more of Maggie Stefton's 6th book in her knitting series, "Fleece Navidad." Too funny.

Friday, October 31, 2008

On Hallow's Eve

Yesterday, I casted on for a tunic that has been floating around in my head for over a year. I've seen a lot of knitwear around in the stores lately, and caught on to one of their stylish ideas on collars that I decided that would look great on this knit.
I've completed the waist shaping, and I am now venturing into the chest shaping (which is really just simple increases until I'm satisfied with the width). The piece is also a few inches away from the arm shaping...which will be interesting, considering that I'm really going to "wing" the whole decreasing for the collar simultaneously.
The tunic will have a purled-side look, compete with pockets and a wide buttoned collar.
Today is Halloween, and I dressed up (to scare the crud of the kiddies) as a "corpse bride."
Can you believe that I made the entire costume from scratch? Yeah, that means my hacking away at the sewing machine. It actually fit, which was pretty neat...and I kept telling myself that it doesn't need to be a pretty sew job. It was just going to be shredded anyways at the bottom. I made two layers, one that was velvety (gosh, someone should have warned me that the edges of that material will not lay flat! Holy moley!), also shredded on the bottom, and the satiny skirt, tied by the blue ribbon that actually matched the blue ribbon on my satin flowers. Neat, huh?Sir William Bones and I are now happily married. We'll send you more lovely photos when we get back from our graveyard honeymoon. *OWWWW--OOOOOO!!!! OW OW OW-OOOOO!!!*

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Autumn Rush

I hope all of the KUAS members had a great October. I really tried to spoil them this month! They got three skeins of KUAS yarn, 3 paterns and some goodies!
The theme for the October club was "Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Aszkaban." I subtly tried to incorporate the movie into the club with inspiration from the Hogsmead scene. Hermione had that one cabled hat & glove ensemble...and I tried to do my own thing that's bold, yet real quick & easy. It's a rib between snaking cables. The pattern would stand out a lot more on a solid, or semi-solid colorway, but is still pretty neat-looking on this month's colorway, "Scarecrow" (another inspiration from the movie--Fall. It reminds me of Hagrid's pumpkin patch and crows cawing.
The fingerless gloves are another quick & easy knit. It's knit on worsted weight yarn, and then cables are smaller. I just love how the cables snake around the thumb. The patten is a mirror-image between the hands.
I gave them the choice to knit up ribbing on the bottom. The cap doesn't roll one bit, some I know that some people prefer it. I say, if you have a smaller head, you might want the extra tightness. Otherwise, if you like loose-fitting hats (that still stay on while you run--I tried it), skip the ribbing.
Another project from the club is my "Traveler's pouch." It's a little quirky knit that I picture wizards using in Zonko's shop. It's the little things in life that make it all fun.

News: I got a new camera (yay!) and a new haircut! Pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harvest Bowls

Ever since the felted clogs, I started to get in the mood for all sorts of felted projects. My latest felted project, "mystery knit #1" is called "Harvest Bowls." If you look close up, you'll notice that not only is there a variety of sizes, but they are all uniquely shaped. The middle-sized bowl actually looks a lot like a pot, since it widens at the top. They all serve their own purpose, which is to be filled with Fall goodness & to wait patiently for the next greedy hand to pass it's way.

Pattern: KUAS' "Harvest Bowls"
Yarn: Knitpick's Telemark in perisimmon
Needles: size 8 US & 10.5 US
WIP: Oct. 13th-Oct. 20th, 2008 (worked on it real dilegently, didn't I?)


They are all a 2-needle construction & knit entirely in garter stitch. I made two different leaves for the bowls, but my favorite is definitely the oak leaf. I was just free-knitting the poor bugger, and it turned out quite close to the actual leaf shape. Happiness.

I initially put them all in the wash, but scowled when I saw that my garter stitch did not felt at all. That's a *slap forehead, garter stitch gets real loose in water.* Picture me, with thick gloves & a sink filled entirely of steaming-hot water, vigoriously agitating the wool by hand. For nearly 15 minutes. Yeah. I was sweating bullets. But it was worth it. Aren't they so cute & festive? The big bowl can be modified to be thicker though. It didn't turn out as solid as I thought it would be. Lesson for next time: for the biggest bowl, use 2 strands of wool & stockinette. Not garter. Then I can fill 'er up with a whole ton of apples. Rocket-science, huh?
I've got the patterns written out on different sticky notes (I've gotta stop doing that!). Now I just need to type them up, so I can maybe put them up on my shop.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

Did you see...did you see? I'm in today's Lime & Violet's "Daily Chum" news. Squee!

What's on the needles lately?

1. Joe's 2x2 rib Hawkeye socks (you know, gotta knit them up before he graduates. In December.)

2. Grandpa's "(Go Bears!) Sports Pillow." My grandpa is not doing well after his serious heart-surgery, and it's all because he can't walk. It's a slippery-slope. He can't walk, now he has bed-sores, now he has a bladder infection, and so on & so forth. He loves the Bears, and I'm going to knit him up a quick & easy (you know me, all about the quick & easy knits) pillow.

3. Mystery knit #1 put on hold for a sec. (Mystery knit #2 still not casted-on. Hopefully I'll get to it soon, because you'll all love the pattern. ;) It's going to be awesome!)

4. Bottom-up raglan definetely put on hold. Mr. Scarecrow wanted to hold the sock for a bit. I had to walk away after he started pestering me for some mitts.

I'm off to do some more walk/jogging. If anyone lives in the Chicagoland area (specifically in Lake County), we are meeting at a coffeeshop on Wednesday 10/22 at 7:15pm. Email-me if you wanna come be part of our group.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Storytime

Once upon a time, in a time of brisk air and leaves with lush colors, a girl walked about the sidewalks of an old neighborhood. It was her day off, and a good walk & jog suited her well. This was a time when trees started to drop their leaves and leave some of the brightest, and most beautiful fruit left on the branches. The girl wondered to herself if anyone could ever be immune to the beauty of this season, for to her, no such thing is possible. So she jogged about, while watching the leaves fall gently like rain.
She later made friends with a woodland critter: Mr. Squirrel, who she learned had already been collecting his acorns for the upcoming cold season. Time was ticking, and the girl curtsied before jogging away after parted with a friendly "Au revoir."
She followed the stairs up through some more sidewalks, and continued on her journey.
One the way, some bright yellow, green and light orange trees swayed gently as the morning light poured through the cracks and spaces in their leaves. Other golden trees danced, one hand clenching another.
...until the path home became evident. It was time to go home.
...and to continue working on her "mystery" knits.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The thick, wonderful aroma of Fall

The chilly air. The thick woodsy aroma of burnt leaves and an apple-pie cooling on the ledge. Yes, a warm and delicious homebaked apple-pie with all its parts made from scratch. That's the glory of Fall. Simple connotations of it, perhaps. With a piping-hot mug of cider, it's hard to do anything but sit back and enjoy the steamy brew cupped in your hands while staring in awe at God's sweet creation. Fall is my favorite time of the year. It's a time of harvest, a time to renew your senses...and finally a time to crack at some knits. Above, the presentation of my "Spiced Pumpkin Latte" lace-weight yarn that was shipped out. I've got some more bare superwash sockyarn shoved stored in my closet...and I hope to do more of the coffee colorways soon. Anyone interested in some "Spiced Pumpkin Latte" in sockyarn, or should I just plunge right in to my "Mocha" colorway?

An apple-pie that I made entirely from scratch, made with various apples picked from the "Apple Holler" in WI. Making crust is not worth it, and I'll definitely buy the pre-made crusts from the store...thank you very much.
Oh, and the pie sitting on the ledge is more like being devoured, not "cooling." It was surprisingly scrumptious for being made by a pie-newbie like me. Eh, maybe you just can't screw up apple-pie in general.
Mystery knit #1:
Mystery knit #2:
I have finished designing the knits for the Oct '08 KUAS club. yay. All I have to do is finish writing up the patterns, fiddle with the skeins & packaging and then send them off! They are almost done, guys! Pictures of the knits will be uploaded once they get their packages.

Stay tuned this week for more about these mystery knits!
In the meantime, have you seen my new free pattern out? I even put it up on Ravelry too.

'Night. *This lady now needs some serious sleep pronto, as knitting too much and working mornings (and some evenings) 6 days a week is starting to take a toll.*

Friday, October 10, 2008

"I went to a rubberband fight, and a wedding broke out!"

I came back safe and sound from my (long) weekend trip from MN. Remember that 3 hour detour to pick up Joe from Iowa City? Try a 4 hour detour. At least. This is my all-time favorite picture now. It's a picture of a picture, so bare with me...but it sums up my family-to-be very well. I'm thinking of using the portion with me and Joe to use as our "save-the-date" magnets. It will say something like "get ready for another Mal wedding. It's on." lol. (His last name is Maliszewski-long, I know...it's great to weed out telemarketers-so we just use "Mal.") The wedding party. Mostly people I didn't know.Our beautiful hotel. Embassy Suites. The family was so drunk and rowdy during the "post-party" (you know, shooting rubberbands and talking rather loudly in their room), that I swore the security lady was going to "escort" the lot out of the hotel. Permanently. She was a real nice lady. *cough* And so I finally went to the "Mall of America." I didn't even know that it was located in MN until I was in the state. What a wonderful surprise. While the bride and the whole party busied themselves getting ready and making last-minute scurries...Joe, myself and his mom went shopping in the world's (almost) largest Mall in America. A frickin' theme park in the center of the mall. Crazy. Most importantly...several Caribou Coffees! Now, if you're an avid reader of this blog, you would (or should) know for certain that I am a true 'bou fan. No other mocha is like it. Lego Land!Grr.Who the heck is this guy? I was taking pictures of Lego Land, and he was looking at me and waving like "please-pretty-please take my picture." So, I obliged. Ha.
Like a kid in a toy store. Oh, wait. He is a kid in a toy store. *funny* Actually, that Starwars thing he was looking at was marked down for the generous price of "only 200 dollars." What a deal. Seriously. *choke*
Now this was neat! There is so much going on. Can you see the tiny squares?
What about now? Pretty sweet. I have no idea how people do things like this. It just amazes me.

Joe brought up a good point at the end of our "Mall of America" experience. Isn't a broken-down escalator just a "staircase?" Obviously, the "Mall of America" is a summation of American culture. Lazy. As the "Mall of America" says: a broken-down escalator is too hazardous to our health...and we should just take the elevator instead to get to the nearest fast-food restaurant.
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