just one more day a week? is that to much to ask?

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over the next two weeks I will be teaching a group of homeschooled children a weaving workshop as part of their teacher’s desire to add handwork to their waldorf inspired curriculum. I have plans to add some tutorials up here about how to create your own small loom, and then how to work with the loom, but that needs to wait until a0 after the kids have had their lessons, and b) after I get more of my Christmas knitting done. Most of my day today was spent building 8 picture frame weaving looms. the first, was the prototype, to make sure it was doable with the vision I had in my head for how it should work. there were supposed to be six others, one for each of the children in this homeschool group. I had made it through 4 with flying colors. the fifth, including the prototype, cracked, and the nails came loose. this was a problem because the nails need to be able to hold up under a little bit of pressure, to handle the warp threads. my heart sank, and I began to panic, thinking about the details of when and how I was going to get out to the store to pick up another frame, and how that was going to cut in to the time I wanted to spend this afternoon creating a sample so that the kids could see what I’d be showing them to make.

while digging through some boxes in my basement looking for a container filled with finishing nails I had bought for the sole purpose of building my own large scale looms, I came across some picture frames that were the right size for the looms I was building, but didn’t think twice about them because I bought more frames just for this project. when I remembered this, after spending a few minutes freaking out, I realized I had averted a crisis. My hands are sore from hammering in well over 100 nails to create 7 pint-sized looms (8, if you count the one I broke and had to abandon), plus the sanding, and other prep work I did to get them warp-ready for Tuesday, and the sample I created. I’m not really complaining. I like when my hands or feet are a little sore – it’s a reminder of a day well spent. However, in this case, the day well spent with sore achy fingers means that knitting tonight will be slow-going, or a no-go.

I remember while I was planning my wedding, it seemed like for every thing I accomplished and was able to check off my list, there were 5 more things I had forgotten about, or just learned I had to do – and my list grew exponentially (or atleast that was how it seemed). the night before my wedding I was busy doing some project, which in hindsight was entirely inconsequential, and it would’ve been better if I had gone to sleep instead, but I just had to finish this one last thing. and then it was another one last thing. and then another. well, you get the picture. I think that night I got three hours of sleep, and my husband got 2, because he too was working on a project that just had to get finished. (I don’t think 5 years later either of us remembers what those projects are)

for the last few years, a majority of the Christmas gifts I have given have been handmade. I find gift-giving for my loved ones increasingly challenging year after year when they tell me that they have everything they need, or I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a clever, personalized gift that I hope they will enjoy and my mind is as blank as the snow is white on Christmas morning. I can’t help but feel like I die a little inside when family members just ask me to gift to charity in their name. Giving to charities is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like there is a little kid in all of us that delights in opening a real present over the holidays. (assuming of course, that you celebrate such holidays). this is how I came to give handmade Christmas gifts to most of the people on my list. I know it will be something they enjoy, because I get to watch them unwrap it and see their face light up as they realize I’ve made something just for them. no one else has exactly the same thing. I know they enjoy the gifts, because I can see the signs of wear on the object as the months, or years go by. It doesn’t really seem to matter how early in the year I start, about two weeks before Christmas, I am in crunch mode, knitting/weaving/and felting like a mad woman trying to get everything done for get-togethers with different friends and family. it doesn’t help that in those last two weeks of hard-core crafting, I also always seem to add a few more projects to the list, for people who I had absent-mindedly left out of my handmade Christmas gift list. it’s not even like it’s the same people I leave out every year. I just need more time to get it all done!

I would love to have an extra day a week. In those extra 52 days a year, I would be able to use them to do all of the long laundry list of craft projects I have, but can never seem to find all of the time, energy, money, space & proper weather to be able to complete. I get a lot of projects accomplished every year, and I’m not complaining about what I do get accomplished. there is a part of me however, that always wishes I could do more. Like the lamps in our bedroom that I bought from a local sally ann a few years ago and are a shiny shade of gold. I’d much prefer they were silver. I have the spray paint to complete the project, I just need a sunny day that isn’t too cold, or too hot, with no threats of wind or rain or snow. in Ottawa, where the winter seems to last a good solid 6 months, and then add in rainy days and windy days, that leaves very few optimal days for an outdoor spray painting project, or as I like to call it, because it sounds awesome – a lamp revamp!

I say we stage a revolt. or sign petitions. ask a higher power to add in an extra day a week (and if they just won’t budge, what about an extra hour a day?) there is a miniature muffin pan that has been calling my name, sitting on my kitchen counter asking for me to christen it with it’s first batch of miniature cupcakes. I don’t even want to tell you how long it’s been sitting on the counter. you might laugh. or cry? in an extra hour a day, think of all the baking I could get done? and some extra art projects too! surely, that’s not too much to ask for. right?

we all tend to make time for the things in our lives that are important to us. sometimes things are important, but we make excuses for a variety of reasons. Moving in to 2014, I’d like to make a more conscious effort to make more time for my art. it makes me happy. brings me joy. and could very likely turn a profit. but I have to start. having more time to make art means spending less time doing things that maybe don’t matter so much, or prioritize how I spend the hours in my day. I’m sure we can all relate, right? atleast once a week, I think most people ask themselves, “where did today go?” or “where did the last hour go?” or some variation.

the prompt for today over on blogher.com was “what do you wish you had more time to do each day? in a few word, the answer for me is: make stuff.

Roller Derby and 19 other awesome things about this year

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I like to think that I am thankful of things in my life all year long, but there is something about the holidays, namely Canadian thanksgiving in October, American thanksgiving in November, and Christmas (which, I hope you know by now is on December 25th) that makes me feel a little more thankful for all the things I have in my life that are truly special.

we live in a world that moves at an extremely fast pace, and as time goes by, sometimes we forget some of the little things along the way. and the little things aren’t necessarily all that little afterall, but it seems as though it is human nature to replace the things we are thankful for, with things we want or think we need.

2013 has been a transitional year for me, filled with challenges I have never faced before and painful choices, but also there has been a lot of beauty in it too. I would like to use tis opportunity to remind myself of some of the precious moments of this year that I can look back on at the same time next year.

1.  My husband and I saw the 2nd year we lived in a space that we selected together for the first time. It feels more and more like a home every day.

2. I celebrated the 2nd year in a home with stairs, which in my 30+ years on this planet, is the first home I’ve had that occupies more than one floor.

3.  2013 also meant celebrating our five year wedding anniversary, and I can say with confidence, that this is the best year of marriage we’ve had so far. We also celebrated 10 years together, which Is another milestone in our relationship. yay, us!

4. Early this year I made a promise to myself that I would start taking care of myself better, in mind, body and spirit. I have been on a weight loss journey for over 2 years, and have seen results, but very slowly. I started in making a lifestyle change, not adopting a diet. To maintain my weight loss, I needed to change the way I thought about food. This year I made a really conscious effort to eat healthier, using foods that I could recognize all of the ingredients so my body would too. I learned how to make kale chips, spinach chips, different types of smoothies, and did some “experiments” with going gluten free and corn free to see how it affected my health. There were positive changes, and I did very clowly add some gluten back in to my weekly nutrition, but I limit the amount of starch I eat everyday. I feel that I have come very far this year in terms of eating better and making better food choices.

5, Also in the weight loss department, since my progress had been slow, but fairly steady, I decided to amp it up a bit.  In may, I joined up with the Rideau Valley Roller Girls (rideauvallyrollergirls.com) to do their fresh meat program, which is in derby-lingo the training program new recruits do. They make it look easy. It’s not that easy, trust me. Falling and the fear of really hurting yourself as an adult, is very different than the childhood belief of “yeah, I got this!”. At the end of each session, a standardized skills test is given, and those who pass go into the league. Those who don’t, either give it another go, or sadly, give up. When I joined, there were 30+ other women who all had the crazy notion that skating would be fun. Not only skating, but knocking other people on their bums in the process would be fun. When the session came to an end, 14 of us showed up on testing day. Me and one other girl  didn’t attempt the mins  test because we felt we weren’t ready, but we both did decide to give it another shot in the next session.  I did give it another go when the following session was offered, until some health issues were interefering, but I hope to give it another shot in the new year. I struggled with having to give up something, even if temporarily, that I was really growing to love – because of the comraderie between women, that those same women are tough as nails and who wouldn’t want to be a part of a group of women who are that kickass?, because it was good for my body and I was seeing rapid changes in my body (I lost almost 3 inches in my waist line in the first three months), and also because I was learning a new skill. I skated as a kid around a wooden rink, but hadn’t done that in probably 15 years. I had never learned how to skate backwards, or do any of the other fancy things derby girls do. (You should youtube a tomahawk stop, and you’ll see what I mean). I started out in may unsteady on my feet,, err, I mean skates. In our first practice I spent most of the time holding on to the wall and being scared of falling down. Part of a minimum skills test is doing 25 laps of the track in 5 minutes. There is a technique to doing this so that you can actually skate 25 laps of the track in 5 minutes. The first time I attempted it, I did 3 laps in 5 minutes. Part of me felt ashamed, as there were many other people around me who did 22 laps in 5 minutes, which for a first attempt is pretty darn good. I second guessed myself. Wondered what I had gotten myself into and if this was all a huge mistake. I fell twice doing those three laps and required help to get up on my feet again. I struggled for weeks getting over the mental aspect of trying to stand up on my skates again after having fallen down. In derby you fall down a lot, and there is skill in falling to lessen the likelihood of injuring yourself or someone else, and there is also skill in getting back up again, especially if you are afraid that in the process you will fall down again. The second time I did the 25-in-5, I managed 10 laps, which was leaps and bounds better over 3 in 5 minutes. By the end, my legs were shaky and felt like jello. I plan on keep trying until I can pass my mins. This

6. Over the summer, my husband and I kindled a new friendship with some of our neighbours who live just a few houses down from us. We share similar senses of humor, and similar relationship dynamics, and it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve regularly spent time with another couple. We even spent a day with them at the end of the summer going to Calypso Water park. We had been twice before, but it was great to share the experience with new friends.

7, The new friends we have, I will call S and C. S is the guy, and C is the girl. C told me about this class that she had taken in the past called Nia, and that it was something she wanted to try again, and asked if I’d be interested in joining her. My description of Nia is that it’s a lower impact, less crazy version of zumba, it’s been around for 30 years (yeah, I didn’t know that either). It is a blend of choreographed movements that draw from different disciplines of dance, martial arts, and yoga. There are usually portions of the class where emphasis is placed on exploring how your body moves, and the message for the entire class is to move how it feels right for you. Nia came to me at a synchronicity moment this year. Synchronicity is a term used by Julia Cameron in her books The Artist’s way and Vein of Gold and is the idea that if you need something, you put it out in to the world and then your call is answered. I was in the process of making the decision to take a break from derby and I needed something that would serve two purposes in my life – a) something that would keep my body moving and further my weight loss goals and b) something that would speak to me on an emotional/spiritual level that would encourage me to be more introspective. Nia fit the bill on both counts for me. I tried it, and realized later that it wasn’t really for me, but in the process I learned that it is ok to not like something, part of the joy comes in trying new things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t

8. The reason why I decided to take a break from roller derby – those health concerns I was speaking of earlier? it took me some time to realize, but since may, when the only thing that had really changed in my life in that month was skating twice a week for four hours total, was that my sleep was suffering when it hadn’t previously and I am prone to migraines, but it had gotten to a point where I had a migraine almost every day. Something had to give so I could function again. Part of taking care of myself this year, has meant that I started doing acupuncture once a month with a lovely woman who practices acupuncture and naturopathic medicine, two things that I believe very passionately in. I am happy to report that my migraines are back down to just a few a month, which is where they were before.

9. Also related to taking the reigns on my health, I went to the dentist for the first time in a very long time.

10. I also went to the eye doctor for the first time in a very long time. I was given a new prescription and the new eyewear I am sporting seems to also make a difference in the frequency of migraine headaches I have.

11. With the support of my naturopath and some extremely knowledgeable friends, I have also been looking at some herbal supplements to support my overall well-being and health. Alternative medicine is something I have been a big believer in for a long time, and I was finally in a place in my life where I was able to embrace more options to western medical care. Western medicine does also have it’s place in my life, I have had asthma since I was a small child, and I use traditional medications to treat it, especially where I have had no success with alternative care. I believe in an ideal world, both options would be available to everyone, and can help for a myriad of things that there may be no other answers for. This is my personal opinion, and I realize it may be fallible. I am human and haven’t had any medical training.

12. I have been out of work for a while. At first, it seemed like a pain. I feel blessed to have a supporting husband who is encouraging me to find the thing that makes me happy. I have applied for many jobs in recent months, even had a few interviews, and unfortunately things haven’t panned out. While it can be frustrating and stressful, I am trying to think of it more positively – that I am waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

13, Because of waiting for this right opportunity to come along, I have been doing some soul searching. I am thinking about going back to school next year to become a veterinary technician. My dream is to work with big animals someday – farm animals in particular. I have been told often in my life that I have a gift for dealing with children and animals – both tend to naturally gravitate toward me.

14. Because of being out of work for a while, having free time on my hands allowed me the opportunity to spend some time with the children of the family I was a nanny for, shortly after I first moved to Canada and was legally able to work. When I was hired, the family had a 2 year old son, and a baby on the way. When I started work, the boy was still in his twos, and the little girl was a tiny bundle of joy at 5 weeks old. I worked with them for 4 and a half years, watching them grow, change and evolved into great kids. I was able to visit  with them this summer, and also in the fall, and I feel fortunate to still be included as such a big part of their lives. The little girl is 6 now, and her brother is 8.

15. I can’t remember exactly when it happened this year, but both of my cats have become more cuddly. Smee, is the youngest of my zoo, and by far my favorite of our three pets (we have another cat, Finn, and a dog, Wylie) She took to kneading this year and also being a lap cat. Every night without fail, she and I cuddle in our bed. She lets me use her belly as a pillow, and she purrs contently, I begin to drool and drift off to the land of nod. She waits for the right moment where my breathing changes and I’m about to sleep, and she gets up, cleans herself off, still purring, and then lies across the backs of my knees. I turn my head, looking for the cool spot on my pillow and sleep. It’s the same every night, and I love her for it.

16. I had the pleasure this year of stepping foot into a pottery studio and falling in love for the fourth time (with pottery).  Whether it be handbuilding, or throwing on a wheel, the act of getting messy and making things with my hands is meditative for me. With a studio membership, I learned how that studio works, and about myself on many different levels. I learned more about me as an artist, and as a person since keeping my hands busy allows my mind to wander. this isn’t only true for making pottery, the same can be said anytime I am working with my hands – knitting, felting, weaving, spinning, painting, sewing – I love it all. the finished product is part of the reward, but it’s mostly just about the process.

17. Being elbow deep playing in clean mud and falling in love with it for the fourth time in my life, really got me thinking more seriously about selling some of my handmade wares. it was a dream of mine since before I moved to Canada, and moving here made it more likely to be possible. I’ve had many people in my life over the years encourage me to make a living making stuff, but like most things in life it’s complicated. there are fears, and that’s another story in of itself. I keep going back to the idea though that it would be better to have tried it and failed at it then never to have tried it at all.

18. getting to go to the sheep and wool festival was a fabulous experience. I posted about it not all that long ago, so I won’t bore you again with the details. It was great to be surrounded by so many other people who also love everything-to-do-with-fiber-of-the-animal-kind, and it certainly got the creative juices flowing – and got me thinking more about selling some of my handmade wares, and how it could be a real thing I could be successful doing. the experience also made me think more about the future – my life as a vet tech, and that I would some day like to either work on a farm, or hopefully, live on a farm.

19. before I went to new York in October, I had been meditating a few times a week, mostly in the evening, while in bed, in hopes of promoting a better nights sleep. A few years ago, while in a local yoga studio, I saw these beautiful handmade cushions for meditation in bold, graphic patterns, and while I loved them, I really couldn’t love the price. For a sit set, I would’ve been looking at almost $200. crazy, especially for something likely to get covered in pet hair. Since I had been meditating more regularly again, I started to wonder if I could justify the purchase of sit set, and even the less expensive ones were still around $100 before shipping.  while in new York, I was having difficulty sleeping and mediated every night before bed, which made it easier to fall asleep. I decided it would be a far more rewarding experience to make my  own zafu and zabuton (aka, the sit set). I made them both without drafting out a pattern, which was a  big deal for me and they have been the biggest sewing projects I have completed to date.

20 – last, but certainly not least has been reconnecting with family this year. my mom came up to visit over the summer and we went to bluesfest together. I saw her again when I went home in October, which was really great. we’ve also had some epically long phone conversations recently (one of them was almost 6 hours!) which is awesome when I’m missing life in new York, when I need some mom advice, or some love from my mom. I also had an opportunity while back home to reconnect with my cousin, who has been more like a sister to me when we were growing up. we had grown apart in our adult years, and seemingly more  so in the last few years. it was awesome to spend a day with her just talking and catching up. my sister and I are ten years apart,(she is 10 years younger) and we didn’t grow up under the same roof. our age difference, not living under the same roof, and a complicated relationship with our father was not a good recipe for us being close growing up. when I got married in 2008, it was the first time I had seen her or my brother in many years. this year we have had a few good heart to heart discussions, and I’m hoping we can continue that well into the future.

 the idea for this post came from reverb13 (more info can be found at katmcnally.com under ways to play) where the prompts were what precious things have you gathered in 2013? what memories from this year do you hope to keep with you always?

 

thanks so much for reading!

 

 

Confession time!

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I have a confession to make. I have a love for improv theater, random acts of kindness and flash mobs. In my humble opinion, flashmobs are a blend of improv and random acts of kindness. I would venture to say that most people nowadays have seen video footage of “traditional” flashmobs – the kind with spontaneous dancing where everyone moves in sync for a few minutes out of their day and then leaves as though nothing has happened. I am guilty of spending hours online doing something as simple as looking at youtube videos, and am usually amazed by the amount of talent out there.

In grade school, I played the violin. In highschool, it was the clarinet. In college I even took a class in playing the djembe. The theater program and the music program at the Univerity of Maryland – College Park were in the same building, and often, between classes, I’d sit and daydream listening to people pour their heart and soul into their music. I’ve tried to learn piano, and guitar, but I don’t really have the discipline to sit down and teach myself how to play, but I am acutely aware that I love music. It is a part of my day, everyday. There are many other “contemporary” musical loves in my life but there will always be a place in my heart for Classical and Opera.

You might be able to imagine how someone such as myself with a love for music of all kinds, but for the sake of this post, classical music, stumbled upon an entirely new-to-me genre of flashmob where music is played. It is called, fittingly, classical flashmob. I watched video after video of people performing selfless acts of kindness – sharing their love of music with complete strangers. It put a smile on my face, and hopefully it will do the same for you.

Here are two of my favorites:

1. The Copenhagen Philharmonic playing Peer Gynt to Copenhagen Metro Passengers

2. A FlashMob performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, 4th Movement (Ode to Joy) – no credit is given as to who the performers are, unfortunately

Experiencing a flashmob or improv event is something I’ve wanted to be witness to at the very least, if not participate in, since I discovered they existed a few years back. I’ve even toyed with the idea of forming my own group here in Ottawa. Perhaps in the plans for 2014?

But, alas, That’s all for now. I must go back to my knitting as there are only 15 more days for me to complete my Christmas knitting!!!

How I see the glass

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“Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?” is the question of the day from Blogher.com.

I find this question kind of funny, because I’ve never had anyone ask it of me. I suppose it is the kind of question where you would get insight into the kind of person someone is, but again, no one has ever asked me. I would venture to say that all people who know me really well would consider me the eternal optimist. This isn’t to say that I never have bad days, or get angry, or have bad things happen to me. I most certainly have bad days, get angry (and sometimes at the most inconsequential of things), and again, the people who know me really well could rhyme off a long list of unfortunate events that have happened in my life.

There was a time when I felt much angrier, and it affected my life almost all the time. I know, I’m young, how could that possibly have happened, right? Well, I was a lot younger, had job after job that I hated, and had bad thing after bad thing happen to me. I felt like the victim. Wanted to know why all of these bad things kept happening to me, and when was I going to catch a break?

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment where I had a shift, but it happened. The bad things that had happened all around me for many years, suddenly stopped, and the sky became clearer. I learned to speak up for myself when I was being mistreated at jobs I had and then started to change my outlook on life.

I stopped feeling like the victim, because I started to believe that people will treat you how you let them treat you. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore. I wanted to be the heroine of my story. I had a friend many years my senior when I was 16, who I deeply admired for his ability to roll with it, whatever “it” was. I used to joke that he was the rubber band, he would always bounce back. I hoped someday that I could be like that. Strong but flexible. Fierce, but still soft.

Some days can still be a struggle. I get angry or annoyed from time to time when, for example, when my dog doesn’t listen even though he is well trained, when my neighbours allow their children to scream at the top of their lungs indoors at all hours of the day and night, when a car drives by really fast and I get splashed by road spray, or well, let’s face it, when things don’t go according to plan.

In my early 20’s, I would’ve let something rather small bother me, making me angry or sad for hours, or even days. I think it was some time after I moved here though, I had a change of heart.

When I find myself getting angry, I try to think about why that is. What is really bothering me? What can I do about it, right now? If the answer is nothing, I give myself a timeframe to allow myself to brood, and then I make a choice to do something different.

Bad things happen. People die, disappoint you, betray you, lie to you, hurt you and otherwise bring you to your knees. Sometimes you can’t help but just feel sad, or angry, or cry, or scream. The choice though is in what comes next. Do you hold a grudge? I have held grudges and resentments for years, but somewhere along the way I realized that who that is really hurting is me. While playing around on pinterest late one night I came across this quote:

“Holding on to a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head” Looking it up online now, it seems as though the mastermind behind this powerful statement is Ann Landers. I believe in this statement whole-heartedly.

I didn’t want to let people live rent-free in my head anymore. I am letting go. Finding ways to strike that balance between holding on to the things in life that are important and letting go of the things that are not.

So, the boss who I had about two years ago who laid me off via e-mail from my job while I was on vacation? That hurt. So bad. So incredibly impersonal from a job I put my heart and soul into. But, I am learning to let go as it’s not what is important, atleast not anymore. Instead I am choosing to focus on what I learned from that job and how I grew as an artist, and as a person. Not how it ended.

That is just one example of many, that could make this post exceptionally longer than it already is. Yes, it is true, I will always remember experiences like these. How can we not remember the experiences both good and bad that shape who we are? It would be a mistake to try and erase them from who we are. Instead, I’ve been making a conscious effort to let go of the pain, but remember the memory, so that I can hopefully learn from it, putting a positive spin on negative experiences.

So, how does this all relate to if I see the glass half empty, or half full? this image sums it up for me:

technically the glass is always full
Image is from somethinggeeky.com, they sell mugs and t-shirts with this saying. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine where this saying originally came from.

The way I see it, the glass is always full, not just half full or half empty. Half with water, half with air. If life were to be the glass, and the water is the good stuff in life, and the air is the not-so-good stuff in life, the glass is full. Life is full. We need the not-so-good stuff in life to remind us how great the good stuff is. So even if you see it as the glass is only half-full, I see it as I will enjoy every last drop.

today i feel. . . .

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accomplished. I did a lot of cooking and cleaning and still managed time for me to lay on my couch and knit and listen to the ice and snow melt outside of my window. drip, drip, drip is the conversation between the icicles and the flashing on my windows. at first, it drove me crazy, but after a while I came to find it soothing. drip, drip, drip and the rhythymic clicking of my knitting needles as I blaze through my Christmas gift giving list.

thinking about gifts from the heart, and how handmade should really be called heartmade. stitching in intentions, hopes, dreams and well wishes. I love that about handmade gifts.

what is the most memorable handmade gift you have ever received?

better late. . . . .

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than never, right? I assembled this picture the day after my last blog post, intending to post about it. Then, we lost internet again. boo. hiss.

Then there was life. and nanowrimo, and time passes. Has it been a month? I’ve been off to a rocky start with this whole blogging thing. I thought surely I could commit to blogging once a week. And yesterday I signed up for Nanoblomo which has me promising to post everyday. everyday? yeah. I’m going to try my best.

This post about the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2013, is well past long overdue, but better late than never right? The sheep and wool festival was amazing. I remember it like it was yesterday. The day was bright and sunny and I got to spend it with my mom. Spending time with my mom is truly special as she lives in NYC, where I was raised, and I call Ottawa home. We are both creative types. I feel very strongly that I owe my passion for art ad being creative to my mom and my father’s mother. I have great memories with both of them, making all sorts of projects, often when I was home sick from school. I was sick a lot as a kid, too, so there were many many days home from school. My mom much prefers going to quilt shows, fabric being her preferred form of fiber. She learned how to knit as a kid, but didn’t pursue it much, so it was actually me who taught her how to knit again as an adult. I didn’t learn to knit from my grandmother either. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress. She made clothes, often without a pattern, and for a time, even repaired lace for a living. Sewing was a big part of her life, even as a senior. I looked on as a child as she pain-stakingly sewed projects by hand, her vision mostly impaired by her cataracts. I guess it isn’t much of a surprise that I came to love the world of fiber as much as I do now.

Sharing the experience with my mom was lovely. She and I have both been told that we have an eye for color, and she asked me loads of questions about how diferent things in the wool-world are used. I am no expert, by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve learned a lot, from many great teachers along the way. I realized in our conversations, that I am as much fascinated by the science behind why wool ad fiber works the way it does, as in the beauty of it all. Chatting with her and sharing my knowledge with someone who could appreciate it, made standing in the long lines for almost everything a little more tolerable. There were lines to pay for things, lines for the washroom, lines for food, and lots of crowds. I’m not a big fan of big crowds. It was nice to sit and chat too and take breaks. Having such a beautiful autumn day made the experience that much nicer.

We didn’t get to see everything. There was more yarn and vendors than any one person, or two people, as the case may be, to see in one day. I had read before we went that it was the biggest wool festival in the northeastern united states, and they weren’t kidding!

In the summer, the barns are filled with animals. During the Dutchess County Fair which is on the same grounds every August, you can go in the stables and pet animals, sometimes feed them and see the ones who have won prizes. Those same stables were filled with vendors selling their wares. Booth after booth of mostly yarn. Maybe it was in the areas I didn’t see, I did expect more novelties like ditty bags to hold knitting projects, buttons, shawl pins and things like that. From what I did see, and I feel like it was well over half of the show, there weren’t very many vendors selling these things.

Now, it may be that I am hard to please, that the yarn all starts to look the same, and it is hard to find something new and different and truly special when you can spin your own yarn, dye your own yarn, and also when you have worked in your lys (local yarn store), and also that I found a lot of the yarn expensive (I saw nothing under $20 in the way of yarn), so it took me a long time to find some pretties to bring home. But I did find them.

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2013

(from left to right, top to bottom)

1. Canvas ditty bag (sold by the festival)

2. A pound of silk hankies/mawatas from New England Felting Supply & two Kumihimo discs (I can’t remember the vendor I bought them from, she was a nice lady who used the wheels to make jewellery) – my plan is to dye the silk hankies and knit them into silk mitts without spinning them first, a la the Yarn Harlot. The Kumihimo discs I bought to use to make jewellery and also to do another version of making an I-cord for more interest in knitting projects.

3. The book Feltlicious, by Kari Chapin – because I love needle-felting, miniatures and fake food.

4. I made this! It’s a zafu (a meditation cushion). the top and bottom are potato printed with pebeo fabric paints, and then I made the zafu and matching zabuton using my mom’s awesome sewing machine while I was staying in New York.

5. A hitchhiker spinning wheel from the Merlin Tree. I’ve been looking for a 2nd wheel for some time to compliment my ashford joy. I chose this one because of the design. I fell in love. It was love at first sight, actually. After talking with the owner, I learned that the wheels were designed to be compatible with the bobbins and flyers for the joy which meant I was sold twice over. The price is significantly less expensive than other wheels on the market, which was another selling point for me. Both wheels also have folding/removable parts to make them more compact, but truth be told, I leave mine assembled. I find them pretty to look at.

6. Also pretty to look at? and touch, and squeeze, and pet? Yarn! All of the yarn pictured except for the natural coloured yarn is from Brooks Farm, in Texas. The natural colored yarn is from Bijou Basin Farm, and is really special because it is 100% yak. I’ve been looking for yak yarn for over a year and found it at the sheep and wool festival. finally. at last, my love has come along. . . . . you get the idea. it was expensive, but in my very humble opinion worth every penny.

I took more pictures at the festival, many many pictures of sheep. When I came home and put the photos on my computer I was really disappointed. Most (or maybe, all) of the photos are overexposed. I’m not sure what happened, because my camera settings were all where they should’ve been, and it was overcast while I was taking photos. I decided they were better off not being shared. I usually take much better photos. that’s fine though, because it’s just one more reason to go back next year. . .

Most days I love technology

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but some days I hate it. I’m sure everyone can relate, right? I got home from NYC on October 23rd, fairly late at night (11:30 ish). I’m 32 and married. I’m hardly ever out at that time. Long gone are the days when I would go out dancing with friends and arrive home to watch the sun rise.

There was almost an hour delay to even leave the ground from LaGuardia Airport, so that meant delays everywhere, even though my flight only arrived, if I am remembering correctly, 20 minutes late. (I choose not to think of the pilots as speeding, and instead pressing the red button on the airplane that says “warp speed!”,  hey, don’t burst my bubble.) Because airport food is not healthy and expensive, and not really ever filling, I was ravenous by the time I arrived home. My family (a loving husband, and a dog and two cats) were all thrilled I was home and each respectively looking for cuddles and I was just like my dog is most of the time “food? food? where is the food?” I ate, loved up my family and then went to bed.  The 24th was a wash, I guess you could call it jet lag from all the excitement I had in New York. I spent most of the day sleeping and bonding with my bed (it missed me!) and doing laundry.  There is nothing that says a vacation has ended more clearly then emptying out all of your luggage.  The experience is usually bittersweet for me, but it was actually fun, because I got to look at all the loot I brought home! I bought a second spinning wheel, a fair bit of lovely yarn, and some other stuff, and I also made two meditation cushions!  I was all set to set it up, photograph it, and blog about it and then a little more than a week ago, our home internet went down. It was down for almost a week! (read: 6 days). We all know how much it stinks to be without power. You realize all the things you wish you could do, but can’t, without it. I’ll watch tv. No you won’t (that’s the power talking). I’ll play on my computer. No you won’t. I’ll open the fridge and contemplate all of my food choices. Not if you want any of the food in your fridge to have a chance at staying edible. Try having an electric stove! Good luck preparing food that you don’t need to heat up in some way, sucka! (that’s the stove talking, in case you were wondering). That was one of the things I had to adjust to when I moved here. The electric stove business. Standard in most homes (houses, apartments, etc) in New York City is a gas stove. They are beautiful things. You can cook food over varying degrees of warmth. Food cooks pretty fast if you want it to, and food cooks evenly too. And yes,you can even cook when your power goes out, provided you very carefully light the pilot light again. Electric stoves on the other hand, in my opinion, are of Satan’s creation. They have two temperatures: “barely hot” and “i’ll melt your pan and burn your food”. With enough patience, you can tame the beast, unless you have no power, in which case, no such luck.

Not having internet at home is quite similar, in that you realize all the things you wish you could do, but can’t. For example, when your internet provider is receiving a higher than usual call volume, and then tell you that you can e-mail them for tech support. D’oh. I would’ve emailed if I had internet l, and if I had internet, there wouldn’t have been anything to e-mail them about! (you get bonus points if you can follow along with my jack sparrow logic right there.)

Still following? I will post pictures of my loot from NYC soon (hopefully tomorrow). So when November came into the picture,  I was seduced by Nanowrimo. For those of you who do not know what Nanowrimo is, it’s fabulous! it stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. It’s free to join, and there is no prize, and ultimately it’s a whole bunch of nutty people who have this insane idea that they will each write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Last year, I got bored somewhere around 27,000 words, and just couldn’t bring myself to write anymore. I hated my characters and wanted to delight in killing them off, one by one, but it wasn’t that kind of story.the story this year is a blend of genres, sci-fi, horror/adventure, dystopian society/post-apocalyptic world, more on that another day. This year, because of the whole having-to-fight-daily-with-my-internet provider, I fell behind. I am however determined to catch up again. In writing my book, and also, in writing blog posts, friends.

In the time without internet, I managed to get a lot of things done. Cooking, cleaning, (some) writing. and even some knitting. Since my internet has been back, I want to hugs it, and loves it, aaand and, well, anyone who has been without internet at home, understands the excitement once service is restored. It’s like a happy child on Christmas morning!

It’s kind of weird to think that in my lifetime thus far, the internet was a)created from nothing (I’m convinced some wizard magic is at play here) and b) holds more information (admittedly, some true, some bogus) that it would take several lifetimes to sift through. When I’m bored with food, I go to the trusty internet to look up new and exciting recipes. When I have pretty new yarn and need a pattern, to the internet I go! Seeing as I live in Canada (which according to Robin Williams is the loft above the party), it is also how I keep in touch with old friends and distant family. It is also a great tool of procrastination, as I have spent many hours on pinterest, tumblr and other social media sites, stumbleupon, youtube, and yes, even to look at pictures of cats, funny things, and all sorts of fails. In this regard, the internet can be a giant black hole of time suck. I can’t be the only one who says “hey, I’ll go on the internet for an hour and research {fill in the blank} and then goes oh my gosh how is it 2 am?” Although I can’t say I’m complaining. I am a night owl, through and through. I have always been that way.

Funny how the internet and technology has both simplified and complicated our lives.  I have been searching the internet far and wide for a while now, looking for a blog-reader since when I bookmark blogs, I  look at them for a while, and then, sadly, that’s where the link love goes to die. So, a blog reader, I am hoping, will allow me to look at all of the blogs I want to read up on, without having a “blogs I follow” list on here that is a mile and a half long. I tried a few apps and either didn’t find their interface user-friendly, they didn’t work properly or they just weren’t laid out in such a way I could see myself happily using them regularly. Then, very recently, I discovered Bloglovin’. Simple design. Easy to use. Free. I’m sold. I will still at some point, list a blog roll on here, but if you too have been looking for a blog reader, check out Bloglovin’. I haven’t received any compensation for plugging them. I am just sharing the love for an app.

aaand, that’s all folks, (till manana) peace out!

-Nadine

Safe and sound

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this was the view I had out of my window from above the clouds on my flight home last night. once upon a time, when I became enamoured with the original sims game, I saw design elements that were a part of the game everywhere, and inspiration for buildings to create in game in nearly as many places. Maybe it’s because I have Fiber on my brain, likely due to the upcoming NYS Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, this weekend, but I couldn’t help but see a blanket of rippling texture that looked alot like a larger-than-life version of the pebbling that can happen while wet felting. I took a few photos, hoping to further preserve the moment after I watched in awe, which will hopefully serve as inspiration for a weaving or felting project in the future.

I’ve never been to the Sheep & Wool Festival here in Ny, or to one anywhere else, and to say that I am really looking forward to the experience is an understatement. I am a native New Yorker, and New Yorkers are fans of having choices for everything, as it is a way of life in a big city. the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the United States, and I read somewhere earlier today that this weekend they are expecting 30,000-40,000 visitors. Go big or go home, I think is an appropriate statement for the festival I choose to attend , considering that the Twist Fibre Festival happens right in my backyard. Sure, I am likely to pick up a few pretties at the festival, and even more likely to ooh and ah over even more things, and it is even possible I may drool over a thing or two, but I am also looking forward to the experience, being among kindred spirits with a passion for Fiber art. For any creative person, it is always fabulous to be surrounded by other people who share the same fire and can inspire each other to even higher levels of greatness.

Rhinebeck also holds nostalgic value for me because the festival is held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, which is where in August every year, a fair is held. There are rides, and a midway, but also a wide array of vendors who sell crafts and handmade goods, there is a petting zoo area, and many competitions for pies and other prepared foods as well as ribbon- winning vegetables from farms quite far and wide. We (my parents and I) went every year when I was a kid. I went with my childhood best friend, I went with my cousin who growing up was more like a sister, and also shared this great experience with some other cousins. I have been to other fairs, and to be frank, they never quite measure up. At some point I’d really like to share the experience with my husband, and at some other point even further off, I’d like to share in the joy of this fair with our future children.

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Just a few moments after I took the photos where we were above the clouds, the seatbelt light came on, and we were instructed to prepare for landing. I snapped the above photo just before we were told to turn off electronic devices. I grew up in NYC and lived the first 25 years of my life here before moving to Canada, and it is kind of amazing to me how different this city feels since I moved away. I am not sure exactly what I was seeing out my window, until just before we landed and manhattan skyline came into view, but I do experience a wide mix of emotions as the amount of lights visible from the air increases and I know the city is close. Those feelings increase once I am on the ground.

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It is very weird to feel like a tourist in the city where you grew up and at the same time feel like you never really left. I guess you can take the girl out of NYC, but never really take the NYC out of the girl. People who knew me before I moved across the border, have told me that I have maintained my no bs attitude since moving to Canada seven years ago, sticking up for myself where it is warranted, instead of that aspect of my personality being replaced by a more passive-aggressive approach that I have been told is a common approach for residents of Ottawa. I do think that there is some truth to the idea that New Yorkers can be very blunt and tell it like it is. There are other things I seem to forget when a lot of time has passed since I’ve been back home. I am reminded nearly instantly after getting off the plane, bombarded with an intense variety of sights, sounds and smells that are filtered through me at a much faster pace here in the city that never sleeps, than I have become accustomed to in a much slower paced way of life in Ottawa. I usually adjust fairly well within a day or two to this, but i sometimes wonder how I ever lived here. I love the wide variety of opportunities available in New York, but Ottawa is more my speed, for sure. I do love to come home and visit, because it keeps me in the moment, I notice things I don’t always notice because we get used to things we are consistently exposed to and am reminded to not take things for granted. For example, in Ottawa, we live in a fairly quiet environment, off of the road, so we are sheltered from noise related to passing traffic. This morning, I was woke up by multiple cars honking at one another, because my parents live on the corner of a busy intersection in Queens. In the coming days, when I make a trip “into the city” (that’s how the queens kids lovingly refer to the island of manhattan), I will still have a pretty good sense of direction, and be able to keep up with the masses. Even if I may no longer sound like a New Yorker, I still have the drivers license that proves I am (atleast partially at heart) a New Yorker.

We would like to begin pre-boarding flight number. . . .

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The airport is one of my favorite places. I can do without what feels like hours of waiting to board a flight. I love the airport because it is a place of happiness. Sure, there may be some tears involved, if you are parting ways from a loved one, or reuniting after a time apart. I feel blessed to share in these moments of tenderness. Last winter, I saw a proposal. Today, I wait anxiously to go home. . .