Thursday, June 28, 2018

Summer routines, and adventures with odious insects...

Summer means a few things for me, though really, for everybody. Thing #1 is that routines change. The mornings with the kids bear no resemblance to what they do during the school year, and weekends often get packed with family parties and other celebrations. And this particular summer, for me personally, it means that a nefarious family of insects are eating me alive IN THE PRIVACY OF MY OWN HOME.


See, this is one of the reasons I like living in a climate that is frozen over for part of the year. Horrible little creatures who bite and sting cannot survive in the tundra. :0

The past 5-6 mornings, I have woken up with red bumps on my arms that quickly escalate to puffy, itchy things of misery. Being the paranoid person that I am, I immediately Googled:

"bed bug images."

Good and gentle reader, unless it is a true apocalyptic emergency, NEVER DO THIS. You're welcome.

Their bite marks are innocuous enough to look like so many other insect bites (this is part of their powerful evil empire, to be sure) however, the other signs of bed bugs in one's house were lacking in ours (thank you Jesus), so I felt fairly confident that my bites were not from them. But I was puzzled, because I haven't been outdoors very much, I'm discovering the new bites in the mornings even when I wear long sleeved nightgowns, and I have not seen nary an infiltrating insect, winged or otherwise, in our house.

I was dropping the kids off at my in-laws' on my way to work yesterday morning, and I showed them to my mother-in-law, a former nurse. She gently told me that they were mosquito bites.

Well, that was anti-climactic. I was lodging a full fledged conspiracy theory of the insect kingdom.

I don't often get mosquito bites, so that's why I didn't immediately jump to that logical conclusion. I'm not much of an outdoors gal, truth be told. I have hyper sensitive skin that reacts if a dandelion looks at me sideways, and the sun and I have a decidedly love/hate relationship. And I live in western New York, where no living insect can dwell for 5ish months out of the year. In other words, I'm not often exposed to mosquitoes. But that is what has been biting me.

Given the fact that I scour my arms each morning upon waking up, and find 1-2 new bites, I know for a fact the following:

(1) he or she has taken up residence in my house;

(2) he or she is going hog wild overnight and biting me as I sleep;

(3) he or she is clandestinely hiding during the day, as I glimpse no flying objects nor hear any buzzing during waking hours; and


I'm not normally speaking such virulent hatred towards other living beings, but this one (and it's family too, I have no shame) have got to go. My arms are a mess. The previous bites are healing only very slowly, and my poor arms have these unattractive red puffy bumps all over them. I'm itching and rubbing lavender oil on them like crazy.

Last night, I did have a victory. I diffused lemon and peppermint (I don't have any Citronella oil, though some is currently on order; fly little Citronella oil, fly!) which I read that mosquitoes hate (*snort* did they poll the mosquitoes?) and I did not have any new bites this morning. Just an escalating one from the morning before that is at peak itch form and growing redder.


And you know what unfair thing is? My husband, sleeping contentedly *right beside me* in our double bed, has nary a bite on him. Apparently, MOSQUITOES DO NOT LIKE HIM. What is this nonsensical crazy talk? Mosquitoes have *preferences* as to which people they bite? Whenever I've mentioned this little problem I've been having to others, this has been bandied about *multiple times*:

"Oh yes. Mosquitoes love certain people and never bite others."

Well, how do I get to be one of these vaulted OTHER people? Is this like that second group on the island on "Lost?" I mean, what the heck?

I'll be on mosquito patrol for the short term foreseeable future. My diffuser will be misting off anti-mosquito propaganda each night, and Mike is spraying something my mother-in-law claims will work around the doors and windows. We'll see.

But I got off track, didn't I? :0 I was going to talk about summer routines, because ours is all loosey goosey, like I imagine yours are too. I'm taking way longer than I should to get me and the kids out of the house in the mornings because there isn't the rushy impetus that there is during the fall and spring semesters, and Mike is teaching summer classes with his hours kind of wonky as well. I suppose that's the way summer is supposed to be though, yes?

The kids LOVE being off from school, though to me, the lack of structure is problematic for them. Sure, they can amuse themselves, but they need to be encouraged to move off the couch and away from video games. And by "encouraged," I mean "directly told that their game time is up and that they are duty bound to play outside for the rest of the afternoon." I'm not the best at coming up with crafts and summer activity ideas (because those usually involve going outside) but I do what I can. So my summer routine means coming up with ideas for my kids' summer routine.

I wish all summer days were like this past Sunday, wherein a gentle rain fell outside as I knitted and drank tea in my leggings and comfy top. What is this that you say? That I am delusional? Indeed. 😂

What does your summer routine look like? I need ideas, people! :0

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Great Crafting Obstacles list of 2018...

Well. I've spent a ridiculous amount of brain power preparing for this post this week,  which isn't unusual for me. ;-) It's nice to have a sense of purpose about my crafting again. I had really lost my crafting mojo after a difficult winter, and right now it's providing me with a lovely sense of peace and serenity. Life can be hard sometimes, and so we all need the little joys in life, yes? In my case, that means reams and reams of yarn.


I have a personal goal this summer of using as much stash yarn as I possibly can, rather than buying new. This sounds quite virtuous and economical, but the real reason is that I'm going to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival in October, and I want to feel unfettered and free to buy as much hand spun, hand dyed yarn as my little heart desires. Carpe Diem, right? Following this logic, one of you needs to go in my will to inherit my inevitably still voluminous yarn stash when I die, so let me know if you're interested!

*virtual high five!*

And so here we have it! This list is a combination of Things I've Just Needed To Knit For The Past Decade, and Things That Truly Scare Me. :0


Big and Frightening Cabled Cardigan

I've knit cables before, but they're still pretty new to me. Also, never in a man's sweater. I have had "Sweater for Mike" on my Christmas crafting list for approximately the past 5 years. At least 3 years ago (maybe more 😳) I bought a truckload of tweed yarn in a neutral color that men seem to like. I'm thinking of one of those fisherman-like cabled sweaters with cables out the wazoo. This one of those projects that I just need to pick a pattern for and cast on for lest I lose my nerve indefinitely. Mike will be excited.


Scary Seamed Socks

My comfort zone with socks are cuff down, basic ribbed socks, knit on double pointed needles. You know, those ferocious-looking ones with points on both ends. THAT was scary to me at first, but I have mastered knitting socks in this way. There are, however, *many* other ways to knit socks, and this is one of them. I want to make socks that are knit flat into a complicated-looking pattern, and then seamed. I loathe seaming. Probably because I'm so bad at it. But these socks are awesome-looking enough to warrant the possibility of a thick and uncomfortable seam on the back of my ankles:

"Smokey Zickzacks" by Natalia Vasilieva
Tentative Toe Up Socks

I tried toe-up socks once. Let's just say it didn't go very well. Rather than a happy load of 64ish cuff stitches, you start out with relatively few stitches on your needles and gradually increase up. The kicker is that, until that happens, things tend to get all twisty and tangled. I was so determined to make those falling leaves socks, too! It was a curse called down on those freaking falling leaves, let me tell you. It's been years now, and I'd like to try again. I WANT THOSE FALLING LEAVES, #@%! IT.

"Falling Leaves Socks" by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence

How Could They Not Be Trouble When They're Called Fox Socks?! 

I like stranded colorwork knitting. But stranded knitting in socks in an entirely different animal. Indeed, we do have the Great Argyle Sock Incident of which we will not again speak. Picture Tiffany painstakingly knitting the argyle pattern with multiple strands of yarn going at once all the way down the cuff, knitting the heel flap and turning the heel, knitting the gusset, then starting the pattern again on the foot, and then finally trying them on. This all took WEEKS. For a single sock. Do you want to know what happened next, good and gentle reader? Imagine your Catholic Librarian trying to force her giant size 9 foot into this sock like one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters intent on the glass slipper. Stranded knitting dramatically changes your tension, making it tighter than usual. Did Tiffany knit a gauge swatch to try and prevent this from happening? No. No, she did not.

And so I have not yet successfully knit a sock with a stranded pattern. I want the fox socks, people, and I want them badly!

Did you ever?! "Fox Isle Socks" by Life is Cozy

"Am I Going To Regret This?! Intricate Stranded Hat That Will Actually Fit A Human Head

Speaking of tension issues with regards to stranded knitting... Stranded knitting requires a particular kind of patience. Socks that do not fit size 9 feet = hats that would fit a baby bird. And Henry would like a stranded hat made with an image of Hedwig from Harry Potter on it. I have gray and white yarn, so I have no excuse not to try this. But...eeks. This is going to require swatching. 😭

"The Owlery" by Ingrid Carre

Praying That It Will Be Gorgeous, Complicated Lace Shawl

I have knit a lace shawl before. But only one. And it did involve some blood, sweat, and tears, especially when I dropped a stitch in the main lace section.


I want to knit a lace shawl before Rhinebeck with a design inspired by the mid-Hudson bridge. The pattern is not available online, but it is *beautiful* and I have hand dyed yarn with a colorway intended for this specific pattern. That's a lot of pressure if I screw it up! :0

A Rhinebeck Sweater

Speaking of Rhinebeck, a "Rhinebeck sweater" is a traditional rite of passage each year for all knitters, and I *really* want to knit one that I've had in my queue for all time and eternity:

"Autumn's End" by Alana Dakos
Yes, more falling leaves, because I am obsessed with them. Don't judge. :0 I even have this very featured yarn in my stash!

Colorwork Sweater For Anne

More sweaters! I've been promising Anne one for a few years now, and I just cast on for this one:

"Little Lighthouse" by Carrie Bostick Hoge
She picked out a bright blue/green yarn, and I'm using neutral colors from my stash for the colorwork yoke. 😇 I'm hoping to have this done for her for the fall.

School Cardigans for Anne and Autumn

Anne and her adorable friend Autumn both attend Catholic schools with a navy blue uniform. I said last year that I'd like to knit them navy blue cardigans that are comfy, rather than the scratchy wool ones a person tends to find in the uniform stores or JCPenney. It is also infinitely less expensive to buy a navy blue cotton/acrylic blend yarn than to buy the sweaters.  I excitedly bought the yarn during a sale, and well...I haven't knit them. :0 Do you think I could get both done by September? eeks!

"Little Hiker's Cardigan" by Melissa LaBarre
I'm really enthused about this pattern. I think the garter stitch will be so stretchy and comfy!

Finish Up a UFO That I Don't Even Like Anymore


This is not an alien invasion, UFO here stands for "Unfinished Object" in the crafting world. There are...let's just say, a NUMBER of possibilities for this category. I like to start new craft projects. I get all excited in the planning phase, and then after I cast on and the item takes shape, it's just bliss. And then, for some projects, the fever sometimes wanes. The pattern begins to bore me, the color starts to sicken me, whatever. And so I innocently tuck it into the bottom of my knitting basket, telling myself that "I'll get back to it later." For some innocent UFO's, later never comes. I know they're starting to resent me, casting on for bright new sweaters, while they languish amongst knitting notions and lost pencils. There's a cream colored, tweed poncho. There's a summer top in peach linen. There's a colorblock shawl. I can feel their beady eyes on me right now as I think about which I'll choose, and it's making me shiver. 😁

Double Knitting Bonanza 

Double knitting is a technique that I've never learned, so I can't even describe it to you, ha! I know that it makes a fabric appear on both sides of your item with no "wrong side," if you will. For example, I've always admired this scarf which is knit using this technique:

"Snowstorm Scarf" by Rose Stewart
See how the one side has white snowflakes with a colored background, and the other side is the reverse? Cool, right? Melanie, you mentioned double knitting. Want to do a winter double knit-along? *halo* I'm open to the Harry Potter scarf, if so!

The Ultimate Terrifying Knitting Project - Steeking

OK. This one is the Big Mama. All of this other stuff? Yeah, I want to make/learn this stuff. But steeking? I'm actually afraid of steeking. Steeking is related to Fair Isle/stranded knitting, which in many ways explains it's intimidation factor. *eyes narrow* Essentially, when you knit using a lot of different colors, the most expeditious way to do it is to knit in the round, wherein you never need to purl. Now, this is all great and everything if you're knitting a pullover with no sleeves. :0 But the instant you need to make an opening for sleeves, or God forbid, a center opening for a cardigan 😱, you need a steek. To steek, means TO CUT YOUR BEAUTIFUL KNITTED GARMENT THAT YOU JUST SHED BLOOD OVER.

I literally don't understand how this is possible. There's something about reinforcing the fabric with sewing prior to taking your scissors to it, but I'm feeling woozy, so I do not understand these words.

This is the last knitting frontier for me. I NEED to try this and live to tell about it.

Before I'm willing to go there for a sweater, I need a smaller steek. A baby steek. A steek with training wheels. So I'm going to knit Fair Isle slippers:

"Frost Slippers" by Emily Kintigh

Don't laugh. I may need you to come and hold my weeping form before this takes place.  You may also need to bring a bottle of vodka.

I will grant, it's going to take me many months to accomplish all of these items. I'll update the blog as I make my way through each project, but it may take me a year or more! :0

Here is out Bingo card to keep track!

 Anne's sweater is already on the needles, so there's a start. *halo* Are you excited to join along with my crafting adventures? What new adventures are you up to this beautiful June day? Have you gotten your book club book, the time is getting closer!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ongoing summer reading, and sometimes we all need to challenge ourselves to try new things...

Well, isn't it just a splendid June day! The weather has been perfectly lovely here (by which I mean sunny and pleasant, sometimes cloudy, seasonal temperatures, and no scorching humidity that causes my hair to balloon or my skin to break out in a bumpy heat rash. Gross :0) and I'm reveling in the quiet serenity that the summer provides. My kids finish up school next week (they go late here, indeed), and are both excited by a few summer road trips they have coming their way with both us and their grandparents.

For my part, I've been enjoying the increased quiet time with more reading and crafting than I can normally manage during the academic year. If you're looking for some recommendations, I have your back! As always. 😇

I recently finished up reading Flowers and Foul Play, by Amanda Flower:

I read this with Sam, and we both absolutely LOVED IT. It's a cozy fantasy/mystery set in Scotland, and it has me dreaming of windswept coastlines, and knitting rugged cabled sweaters (we'll come back to that shortly :0). I highly recommend this author, I just love her! I pre-order all of her books, I enjoy them that much and want to support her!

I'm currently in a small aviation-related book club with my new friend Janel, and we are reading Scapegoat, by Emilio Corsetti:

This is INTERESTING. It's about TWA flight 841, which plunged from 39,000 feet inexplicably, and nearly crashed, in 1979. It was saved by it's crew within a few thousand feet from the ground, and this book details the incident from multiple perspectives, as well as the investigation and the dramatic saga of the crew afterwards. A fascinating non-fiction read!

As ever in the summertime, I have also picked back up with the Harry Potter series. I'm currently on Order of the Phoenix:

It may take me all summer just to read this particular volume in the series. :0 It's a long book, and as you know, I'm always reading other things as well! I am not monogamous when it comes to book reading. ;-)

Based upon the above (plus one previously read title), I'd say I ticked off 3 items on my Summer Reading List! Memoir, contemporary secular fiction, and historical non-fiction. Boo-yah! I just need historical fiction, and SNORT. That's easy. I have like 30 titles on my Kindle that fit the bill. :0

In other news, my crafting continues to bring me solace and joy. Never a gal to leave well enough alone and make things easy on myself, I have decided to issue a challenge. I have been crocheting since my teens, and knitting since I was pregnant with Henry (who is now 12). I've got a lot of experience under my belt. And it's not that I've gotten into a rut, but there are certain types of projects that are my comfort zone. I like my comfort zone. It's safe there. :0

But there are certain techniques that I have either never tried, or have attempted only rarely with mixed success. I think there is a greater life lesson in here that extends WAY beyond my humble crafting world. We often fall into comfortable habits without our hobbies and activities. After a time, we cease trying new things and motivating ourselves to improve beyond what we can already do well. This summer I have resolved that I'd like to challenge myself again. Try projects that intimidate me, and techniques that make me whimper to think of them. I'm hoping that all of this brain power will mean I'm less likely to develop dementia many decades from now like the research promises. 😁

I am actually so excited about this undertaking that I am merely teasing it in this week's post. Next week, I am working on a full-on list, with pattern links and pictures, and an accompanying bingo-like graphic, of the projects I'd like to challenge myself with over the course of the next year. It is complete and utter ridiculousness, and I am LOVING IT!!

*trumpets blare*

I feel strongly that as a child and young woman, I did not challenge myself all that often. I was shy and reserved, and even making a new friend was putting myself WAY out there. In a sense, this time of my life is making up for lost time. One of the biggest leaps I took in my life was in my very late 20's, when I left my legal career and went back to graduate school for librarianship. I didn't start taking belly dance lessons until I was in my 30's, and that's also when I learned to knit (which bears no resemblance to crocheting, despite them both using yarn, so it was a totally new skill). More recently, I became a professional belly dancer and learned to drive a stick shift, two things that I thought I would never have the courage to do. These are healthy things on which to challenge myself, and I want to continue that trend.

So. Next week. Dun dun DUN! The big crafting challenge list! I'm super excited. I can make it a little saga as we travel through the year together, with accompanying graphics and see how I do, lol. Do you have a bucket list of sorts? Generally, or within a specific hobby? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer structure, and Harry Potter knits. Because apparently that is a summer activity for me...

Hello, and happy week to you all! I'm in full out summer mode - absolutely LOVING the quiet campus where I work, the kids are winding down their school year, I'm preparing for our Summer Book Club and starting my Christmas crafting in July list, dance routines for summer festivals are being firmed up, and Mike and I are finalizing the details of our summer road trips.

*woo hoo!*

It's all good.  So, in terms of our little blog here, these are the updates: last week I asked for opinions on a timeline for our Summer Book Club, in which we will read How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church, by Kevin Lowry. Our options are either a month long read-along, or tackling it in a 2 week time span in mid-July given that it is a shorter book. Most people said either option was fine, though they were unavailable surrounding the 4th of July holiday.

I'm inclined to go with the second, 2 week, option. The book is 160 pages, and divided into 2 parts. That's about 80 pages per week, and we can just read part 1 and then part 2. Boom! Hearty dose of summer apologetics. It would break down like this:

July 12th - Part 1
July 19th - Part 2

Sound good? If so, we all have our mission...go in search of the book! I'm going to start reading in early July. *virtual high five*

In other community news, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Tea Time podcast for the summer. To be honest, I haven't been struck by any fancy inspiration. The thought of a saint series came to mind, and I like that idea, but it just did not summon the energy needed to actually make it happen. I'm taking that as a sign that it just isn't meant to be right now. I've been very busy lately with my family, and at work with finishing up my scripture study for women that is BEING PUBLISHED THIS YEAR, stay tuned for more information on that. :0 We're also, yet again, redesigning the course that I teach for the fall, and so available time for recording, editing, and getting out podcast episodes just doesn't seem feasible right now, even for short episodes. It's possible that inspiration may strike before the end of the summer, I'll keep you posted. If it doesn't, I still plan to do special series during Advent and Lent each year in video/audio form. I really enjoyed those this past year, and the liturgical seasons really lend themselves to special themes. It's nice to set aside that time during penitential seasons to focus on faith and community, which is what we do in the Tea Time podcast. So, that's where that all stands. Like I said, I'll keep you posted! My priority is blogging each week, and hosting the book club. That is the foundation of why I started this blog to begin with, and so I want to prioritize time for those things. *heart*

All right, in crafting update, I finished the Little Shoreline baby vest I mentioned last week:

I'm very pleased with how this came out! It is being packaged with a bear cub hat and sent off to it's new owner! I already cast on for a cardigan for my new nephew. *gold star* He lives in Maine, so I figure he needs sleeves. ;-)

I've been really enjoying my crafting lately. I had lost my craft mojo a bit this spring. Has that ever happened to anybody else? I just felt sad and uninspired by it. But it always comes back, and it is back with a vengeance. The baby knitting has really re-energized me. As well, the kids and I are planning to rewatch the Harry Potter movies this summer, and are excitedly planning a HP themed snack menu for the big event, which got me to re-seeking out a Harry Potter community on Ravelry.

I had peeked at them last summer when I was reading the books and watching the movies with my family, and there are several forums on Ravelry devoted to Harry Potter. It's a bit complicated, they all involve "taking classes" and submitting projects in specific ways to get your house credit for your efforts, and I was a bit overwhelmed and confused as to how to become involved. You need to "be sorted" to belong to a certain house, and that can only happen at specific parts of the year. Before then, you need to participate as a non-sorted student to be eligible for sorting, and that's about as far as I got before I panicked and gave up. 😂

This time, I poked my nose into a group called Hogwarts at Ravelry, and though it functions much the way I described above, I found it less confusing this time after thoroughly reading through the instructions. I've been participating in the Platform 9 3/4 thread for unsorted students, and even managed to successfully submit my first project over there!

Socks to keep my feet warm once school starts back up in September!
Thus, I am now eligible to be sorted in late June, and thus I am VERY EXCITED! I also encountered our beloved CL community member Melanie over there in Hufflepuff house, hi Melanie!!

*waves enthusiastically*

This is all to say that I now have extra motivation to actually *finish* the projects that I start, and I also have the warmth of a crafting community supporting me, and it's a giant warm and fuzzy. It's been making me very happy, and I feel super grateful. I can't wait to see which house I get sorted into!

*beams* 😇

OK, your turn. What's going on with you this lovely June day? Are you excited for the book club? Let's hear all about it!