From one frenzy to another

Christmas is over and I spent both days at my parents’, first day with my cats, the second day with my sister and her girlfriend.

My parents’ dog didn’t quite know how to handle the cats’ presence. He’s used to them in the sense that when he was a puppy, I introduced my cats to him (I take them with me frequently on trips and such) but he also took a couple of beatings when he spazzed too much around them. So now he’s cautious and very submissive around them even though they couldn’t care less about his presence. I think they claim my parents’ house and he surrenders but they don’t act like dogs so he’s lost. Thankfully they frequently just lay down and nap without any trouble and nobody gets hurt, so it’s not all that bad! He was visibly relieved when we all went home though. 😉

The rest of the days were spent eating well and enjoying my family’s company. Last year, on the 21st December, my back gave out again and I was bedridden in my apartment for over 2 weeks. I missed Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so it was important to me to make up for it this year.

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My parents’ gift to me was this lovely basket full of hygiene products! Shower gel, shower scrub, body butter, body lotion, a little flask of perfume, some chocolates, Christmas decorations and a card. 🙂 I particularly love the perfume, it smells really good on me. (It’s Gloria Vanderbilt Eau De Toilette for the curious!) My sister promised me cash for the holidays, but as I plan on moving over the next couple of months, we agreed she’s going to hang on to it until the time comes when I need some extra cash for appliances. Lovely scents and bath products are common gifts in my family cause you can always use them and they don’t drain your wallet like crazy, in case anyone is wondering about ‘subtle hints’. We all smell lovely all year round thanks to gifts like these. 😉

The socks I knit for everyone were well received! I had to teach my dad that he shouldn’t stuff one sock inside the other though, cause that was the first thing he did. (I’m grateful my mom’s the one who does laundry, hah!)

I had barely finished my sister’s socks on Christmas Eve when I cast on for my new sweater. (Finally one I’m knitting for myself that I will actually wear too!) The yarn is knitting up wonderfully and I love the colors very very much. Progress is just as fast on this top-down raglan as it was on my boyfriend’s sweater, so hopefully I’ll be done with this before the second week of January. By then the temps should have dropped low enough to warrant a warm wool sweater on my body too. I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of you, but our flowers are starting to bloom…

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When I put the sleeve stitches on the holders, I worried that my bust wouldn’t get enough give and it would be too tight. I knit a little ‘pocket’ of extra stitches right beneath the arms to allow the sweater to stretch in that area purely as an experiment. I cast on 8 stitches beneath each arm for the sleeve before continuing in the round, and I marked those 8 stitches and increased them to 16 stitches every by adding 2 every other row. Then I knit a few rows plain, and then decreased back to 8 stitches per side. This did create a weird little area but it also did the trick for a fit (and really can’t be seen in that position). Unfortunately I’m bigger in circumference than my 100cm needles (downside of being a heavy and tall Amazoness) so I had to transfer all my stitches to scrap yarn, including the sleeve stitches. It took 30 minutes to transfer them on yarn and 30 minutes to transfer them back onto the needles.

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But the modification did what it had to do! I’m in my jammies here and not wearing a bra so only the top of my boobs were covered, but it was enough to confirm the fit for me. I will pick up stitches around the v-neck so it’s not as open, although my next v-neck sweater will probably be a little bit differently shaped. I was wondering about the instructions in the pattern and made a best guess. It didn’t turn out bad or wrong, but for a less deep v-neck I would do it differently. You can check out my notes on the pattern on Ravelry here.

This is still all very experimental for me, but I’m enjoying the process a lot! I can only imagine the awesome sweaters I’ll be making this time next year. 🙂

Did you cast on anything during the holidays?

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Running out of steam

Man, I think I have a little knitting burnout. I finished the heels on my sister’s socks with a lot of difficulty. Took me two days, what the heck? I have the leg and cuff left to go but I’m so tired and so not feeling any knitting at the moment. At least not the socks… And I can’t cast on anything else until they’re done. I have 4 more days to complete them, and I can make it if I put my ass into gear and get to it.

Christmas knitting is fun but I’m not sure just how often I’ll do this. I know a lot of people have resorted to the “I’ll only knit if someone specifically asks for something for the holidays” policy, and I think I’ll adopt it too. Seems more reasonable!

My boyfriend just boarded a plane to FL to visit his family for the holidays. I’m a little anxious about it (as usual) but it shouldn’t take long for him to get there at least. He brought the sweater with him (I think he’s wearing it right now) and will be showing it off to his family. 🙂 It makes me all fuzzy on the inside.

Illogical logistics

Shipping gifts around the world for the holidays has got to be my least favorite thing of the year. Not because I make and buy gifts, but because shipping is such a pain in the rear end.

I sent my boyfriend his sweater and socks on November 26th. The package arrived in the US on December 1st. From there on the package went on a roadtrip from Illinois to New York, then to South Dakota. It took a full two weeks for it to end up in the city where my boyfriend lives. Why? What could possibly warrant such a roundabout method of delivery? Illinois is closer to SD than NY is! Even I know that!

This long shipping time has been nerve wracking. I wrote the company I shipped it through in a panic and discovered that they hand over packages to USPS. Good to know for tracking future packages, cause their site updates better than the Dutch company’s.

Anyway, the 14th is their estimated delivery day. I really hope so! I can’t wait to see my man wearing the sweater!

In the meantime I’m resting in bed while the crockpot is making a delicious chicken stew for me. I have to do the dishes at some point, but for now I’ll share the recipe for those who are interested:

Ingredients:
2 celery stalks, cut bite sized
1 leek, cut in rings
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes (400g)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1.5 cup (325ml) vegetable or chicken broth
1 large sweet potato or 2 small ones
2 chicken breasts, no skin, no bones
Salt
Pepper
A sprinkle of dried thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves to taste
1/3cup (100ml) heavy cream

Instructions:
1. Mix the broth, diced tomatoes (the whole can with liquids) and tomato paste in the slowcooker. Add some salt, pepper and thyme. Stir well.

2. Chop all the vegetables and wash thoroughly. Let them drain in a colander.

3. Peel and cut the sweet potato in cubes and add to the broth base.

4. Cut the chicken breasts in small pieces. You can cook them in some oil first if you want to. I added them raw to the broth base at this point.

5. Add the bay leaf/leaves and push them into the broth.

6. Add the onions first, then cover everything with the leek and celery.

7. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8. the leek and celery will collapse throughout the cooking process so you may need to stir halfway through to mix it up. (But only once!)

8. Half an hour (high) or one hour (low) before it’s done, stir in the heavy cream and let simmer until done.

This should serve a minimum of 3 people. Make sure to remove the bay leaves before serving. You can switch up the vegetables however you like, I don’t like carrots so they’re never part of my stew. 🙂

Grateful thoughts of the day

I’m grateful…

  • that I’m part of a knitting community that isn’t full of yarn snobs.
  • for having made so many connections with strangers all over the world, who share kind words and thoughts that I’d never have expected.
  • for a boyfriend who, despite my mental and physical illnesses and his frustrations for being so far away, sticks with me and makes real efforts to help me in whatever way he can without making me feel bad.
  • that I have a friend who keeps me productive and lets me earn a bit of extra pocket money to tide me over in difficult financial times, while being fully understanding of my problems and giving me the space I need. (Seriously, how many people can say they have such a lenient and awesome boss?)
  • for the craft of knitting; very few things are as satisfying as learning, creating and being proud of your creations!
  • for the friends in my life who I may not talk to every day, but who are there for me when the need strikes, and who pick up conversations with me as if we’d never been apart no matter how long it’s been.
  • for the friends in my life who listen to me ramble on and on every single day and never complain.
  • for my family, who may not be perfect, but who are always perfectly trying. ❤
  • for my fur babies for loving me unconditionally and being the best and most precious kitties I could have ever asked for.
  • that I’m capable of being independent in most areas of my life, even with my disabilities.

Sometimes life seems like it works really hard against you. At those times it can help to put things you’re grateful for in a list. We’re always far more blessed by life than we realize. I have many great things to live for, even when it seems there’s nothing but pain and struggling. Life is good if we allow it to be.

+023 XP

20151130_013441Gosh, I didn’t get nearly as much done today as I thought I would. All I managed to do was eat, shower and get dressed, and knit the heels on the socks. Not much else happened besides chatting with friends online.

I slept for close to 12 hours last night and remained exhausted when I woke up. It’s easy to forget how big of an impact stress has on your ability to recharge during the night. :/ It doesn’t help that it takes me hours to fall asleep either (or that I procrastinate the torture of trying to fall asleep by knitting until 2-3 in the morning!).

There were plans on my schedule to at least vacuum and sort the drawers in my wardrobe to make room for extra clothes, but so far nothing’s happened yet. I have to do a grocery store run tomorrow cause I’m out of butter and some other staples, and maybe when I get back I can vacuum. I’ve cleaned up the floor a little so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to get to it.

At the very least my boyfriend awarded me with XP for finishing the heels, so I’ve got that going for me! I’m running a little out of steam with knitting; I’ve knitted several hours each day since October 30th, without taking a break. I intend to finish my mom’s socks and then my sister’s well before the 21st of December so I can just do nothing for one or two weeks as far as knitting goes. Sometimes breaks are very much needed to avoid a hobby burnout.