Thursday, April 26, 2012

Knitter for All Seasons - 3KCBWDAY4

{the whole year through}

According to Ravelry (my ultimate knitting memory!), I've been knitting since 2005. Thanks to M and my former Saturday morning co-volunteer Kathy, I learned how to knit back in high school, casting on for numerous scarves and.... scarves. I've really been knitting seriously since about 2008 or so, at least as far as I can remember, expanding my skills and talents (although I still have so much to learn). I've lived in the midwest my whole life, and in these past 4 years, I've discovered that my knitting really reflects the seasons and their changes.

Spring and summer?
Small, portable projects.
Spring comes, and I look toward cottons, linens, smaller projects that don't require as much heavy fabric sitting in my lap, because let's face it. Once summer comes, that's just downright unbearable. Come summer, I try and keep up with my knitting, but it definitely becomes challenging as the temperatures (and subsequent humidity) rises. I usually start planning out Christmas gifts, Mom's birthday gift, and anything else I know will be coming up in the next few months. [To be completely honest, I'm also kind of glad for the quietness of my knitting mojo during these months, because it gives me more time to engage in one of my other hobbies -- reading.]

Brother-the-younger's touque, a la voyageur
Once fall arrives and the leaves begin changing, nights and eventually days are cooler, and the smell of woodsmoke and pumpkins are in the air, my knitting fever usually returns -- and with gusto! As I mentioned on Sunday, my color preferences usually change with the seasons. The same is true of my yarn contents. Come fall, I'm back into wools, wool blends, cashmere, anything soft and squishy and warm and luxurious. I'm thinking about sweaters and vests, shawls and cowls, hats and mittens. With the return of football and homework, so returns my knitting, keeping me company on Sunday afternoons as I cheer on the Pack, and waiting patiently as I read yet another article to discuss in class.

Endless Purple Baby Blanket!
And then comes winter, and I long to curl up in front of a fire, under a blanket, with a cup of coffee and my knitting to keep me company. This past winter, the big project was the Baby Blanket of Purple, which took up most of my winter knitting but was so rewarding. Winter also ushers in the frantic last-minute Christmas knitting, unfortunately accompanied all too often by the sinking realization that it probably won't be done on time, but IT'S OK! Mom's birthday is only in a couple more months... and New Year is right around the corner. All will be well.

Every year, my goal is to knit ahead for the next season, but that rarely happens, despite my best intentions. This summer, I've got a few projects that have been added to my queue upon request of some very worthy recipients, and some quite unsuspecting recipients. Yay for surprises! Some of these projects will do their best to defy my usual temperament to seasonal knitting, and they'll definitely expand my knitting techniques (lace shawls, picking up stitches, and double knitting, to name a few) so I'll definitely keep you updated on my progress.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Perfect Day - 3KCBWWC

{Craft Your Perfect Day}

Today's topic isn't really inspiring me, as I don't really have a knitting or crochet hero. Instead, I'm picking up the wildcard topic for today: planning my fantasy day with my knitting. In my perfect world, knitting would be a huge part of my day, and it would be Up North. Up North has always held a special place in my heart, and I've always thought of it as a second home. I was sad this past summer when I knew I wouldn't be traveling Up North, visiting all my old haunts (although I have to admit, honeymooning in Pennsylvania was pretty great!), and relaxing without the busyness and stress of modern technology.

My perfect craft day would start out with a mug of steaming coffee, a chair on the dock, and my knitting. Sitting outside, soaking up the early morning sun, and listening to the chorus of nature, the gentle lap of water against the shore, and perhaps a loon calling its mate. It would look something like this:

Spending some quality time alone, knitting, sipping my coffee, and enjoying the tranquility that is Up North would set just the right tone for the rest of my day. Of course, a perfect day isn't complete without the company of my family, whom I love dearly. My family and I would go into town for a lumberjack of a breakfast at Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty, and spend the day shopping and wandering through the antiques. Of course, I'd always be on the lookout for some knitting patterns or needles. Before leaving town and heading back to our little piece of Up North heaven, I'd of course stop in at the LYS and add some yummy yarn to my stash. Spending the rest of the day knitting and reading down by the lake would make for a perfect crafting day. But of course the day wouldn't be complete without a campfire supper, some cribbage and beer in the evening, and falling asleep to the wind whispering in the trees, knowing tomorrow brings another day of relaxation, knitting, and peace.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Beauty of Color -- 3KCBWDAY1

Today marks the beginning of the Third Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, and I'm very much excited to participate this year! I'm looking forward to the challenge of blogging each day about a different yarn/knitting related topic, and today's topic is a great way to get my feet wet in this challenge:

{Color Lover}

Growing up, having a favorite color was a huge deal for me. Mine was red. Then it was green. Next was purple. Then hot pink and green together. Now, I'm back to green... or am I? As I think about my color preferences though, I find that as a whole, I always gravitate toward warm colors... you remember the color wheel from elementary art classes, right? Reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purples.... ironically, my favorite color is still green. But I think I like green so much because it's such a natural base for all the other colors. Think about it, what color doesn't look good with green in some shade? I like green so much, and how it makes other colors pop that I even picked it for my bridesmaids' dresses last summer when D and I got married. See how pretty they look? (Please, ignore the fact that they're trying to beat each other up!)

Thinking back to our wedding, color was huge for me. Every bride has her colors and sticks to them ("My colors are blush and bashful!" "Your colors are pink and pink."), and I was certainly no exception. Hot pink, orange, and yellow-- lovely bright colors, and I was so pleased with the results. Bright colors make me happy. :) And now that we're in our own place, I find that colors are still a huge deal. I've got the same hot pink, orange, and yellow in our apartment, which really pops against the white walls, and I love it. Wouldn't have it any other way.

For all my love of the same few colors, I find that my color preferences change with the seasons. (So I suppose I could be considered a seasonal color lover?) Warmer tones in the fall, deep reds and greens in the winter, and bright, cheery ones in the spring and summer. Color, to me, is one of the biggest things that makes life beautiful. I was having a browse through my stash the other day, as I bought a new basket to contain some of it, and realized that one of the reasons I enjoy decorating with baskets of yarn is because of the color it brings to the room. I can combine different colors and textures, all in one place and create this beautiful-looking and functional piece of art. As I look at my stash, I realized that the seasons affect not only what type of yarn I purchase, but also the colors I select. Many of my darker browns, greens, and greys I purchased in the winter months; vibrant colors in the warmer months.

When picking colors for a project, often I'll browse through others' project pages on Rav and see what colors they came up with. Sometimes I'll stick with the original... others I pick because I associate that person with a color. Take the baby blanket I knit earlier this year. The pattern picture is pink. Mine was purple because I always associate purple with the recipient. The same is definitely true for other gift knits as well. And I'm more than ok with that (unless they request any specific colors -- I'm more than happy to oblige). For me, color makes or breaks the project. I find that I pick simpler, less complex colors for knits where I want the pattern to show through. I'll pick attention-grabbing colors for patterns that are more basic when I really want to focus on color. Does this mean I'm an all-color-opportunity knitter? I'm ok with that.... because I love color, and the beauty it brings to both my knitting, and my life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In which there is light at the end of the graduate tunnel!

Today, I registered for the next round of grad classes. The LAST round of grad classes! That's right, friends, come December, I'm done. :D (And believe me, I'm so ready to be done.) Passing the Proficiency Exam was the last huge hurdle toward graduation, and now all that's left between me and the glasses-on-a-chain library degree is finishing out my credit hours (or, as the case may be, exceeding them because I find it impossible to pick just one more class to take).

So, as it stands, I will be taking Metadata and Digital Libraries next fall. These are both classes that I've been interested in partially from personal interests and partially from past work experiences (a huge thanks to the St. Louis Fed for introducing me to the back end of digital libraries and the wonderfulness they contain!). They're also both very popular classes in my program, and I'm very thankful to have secured a spot in both for my last semester. As they're both forward-looking classes in terms of the future of the profession, it seems fitting that I'm leaving the program on such a note, and I have suspicions that these two classes will be particularly helpful no matter where I find employment, be it libraries, archives, or anywhere else the Lord places me in the coming years.

And as I was reflecting on the past two years of this program on my drive home this afternoon, it really sunk in just how many changes I've been through in these two short years. My first public sector job in a place I never imagined myself (and wound up loving it), marriage, a new (much smaller) town, new friends and family, and multiple new vocations.... it's exhausting just thinking about it, but so rewarding at the same time. And even though I still remain worried about finding a job (you know, because we all think we need the perfect job right out of school, even though it rarely works out that way) in my chosen profession, I need to remember that it's not what I choose, but what God has already prepared for me to do.

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. ... So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God."
- 1 Corinthians 7:17, 24

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tasty Thursday... and Some Other Crafty Goodness!

I apparently need to get back on the blogging bandwagon! Only one post a week, and all the same food-related topic. Not that food is bad... it isn't! But I need to get a little variety back in here. For now, I'll blame it on school and the fact that I'm ready for the semester to be OVER.

This week's post-Easter Sunday humdrum has left both D and I feeling somewhat tired and ready for a [real] relaxing weekend. With the Heart Walk this weekend, my history-related festivities next weekend, and a youth lock-in the following weekend, I'm beginning to think we may not see some downtime for quite a while!

As a result, today I bring you a very tasty and simple to prepare dessert... the majority of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry/freezer. If not, it's also pretty inexpensive and the options are endless!

Angel Food Cake with Lime Topping

1 angel food cake, cut into slices (I cheated and bought ours from the store)
1 tub Cool Whip
1 packet sugar-free lime Jello mix (or any flavor you prefer)

Combine softened Cool Whip and lime Jello powder until well blended. Spoon a dollop onto each slice of angel food cake. Add any toppings you'd like, such as chocolate chips, toasted coconut, walnuts, or chocolate sauce.

I think this light and tasty dessert would also be good with pound cake, but who doesn't love some angel food cake every now and again?!

An easy and light dessert for those nights when you need something sweet without the extra sugar.

Blessed Easter! He is risen!
A few weeks ago, I also put this wreath together for our front door. I decided to wait and put it outside until Easter weekend... partially because we got so much rain before then, but also because I liked how it brightened up our living room as well! The original plan was to reuse the grapevine wreath with different seasonal decor, but after cutting two fingers in the process of assembling this one, I think those flowers may stay in there for a while. Despite the creative injuries, I'm really happy with how it turned out! [My mom would be proud... the ribbon on the lower left is leftover from our wedding decor. Yes, we've been married for almost a year and we're still using up the leftovers from the wedding... ribbon, root beer, probably some beer as well.]

And finally, a little knitting update: I'm progressing through a pair of mittens I promised brother-the-younger I'd knit for him. For a first pair of mittens, I'm pleased with how well they're turning out and how fast they seem to be going. Especially for only having time to knit a few rows at a time... silly school getting in the way of all this glorious knitting time. :)

I'm also debating knitting a few items for the LWML auction this summer. Not quite sure what I'd wind up knitting for that, as it would definitely be a balance of time and functionality, but I'm trying to come up with a few good ideas. Maybe some spa sets? Or kitchen sets? Some towels and dishcloths would be a good idea, yes? I also found a cute store in Knob Noster that sells embroidered tea towels... I found one with a sheep on it and just had to have it, of course! I'll keep brainstorming... and browsing Rav. [It's legitimate procrastination, right??] :)

Help spark my creative juices! What type of handmade items would you like to receive or bid on for an auction?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tasty Thursday: Holy Week Edition

It's already Thursday of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday, the night when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and instituted both His command to love one another selflessly and humbly and Holy Communion -- Read Matthew 26: 17-29; Mark 14: 12-25; Luke 2: 7-23[38]). This is the night that our Lord was betrayed by man, arrested, and put on trial -- all in our place. It's such an emotional roller coaster the next few days, one that definitely puts Christ's life and our own lives, in perspective.

As a pastor's family, this also means that it's a super busy weekend, spent either at church or at home preparing for the next day's services, leaving little time for extensive meal planning or cooking. So tonight, I planned a very simple, delicious meal (which also helps clean out my fridge of leftovers!), since from now until Monday, it's going to be an eat-and-run supper every night.

This week's meal is super simple and super easy. (Did I mention it's also super delicious?)

BBQ Pulled Pork {Jack Daniels Style}

I found this Jack Daniels bbq sauce recipe, halved the recipe, and made it earlier this week. [It was a hit. I was also told I may have to make bbq sauce from now on instead of purchasing it. If you don't want to make your own sauce, you can substitute any sauce you like, but trust me. You want to use this sauce.]

Today, I took a 2 pound boneless pork loin roast and 1/4 cup water and put it in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours. I then removed most of the excess juice/water (the pork is unbelievably moist), shredded the pork, added enough BBQ sauce to sufficiently cover the pulled pork, and put it on low for another hour. Voila! Supper's on the table, little clean up is required, we're out the door and back at church for services, and everyone's happy.

Served with leftover mashed potatoes, salad, and some fruit that needed to be eaten before it went bad.

Blessed Holy Week to all!