(And the necessary beverage to help! Ha!!)
In my household, we have finally gotten past the “Holiday Weeks” that encompass the end of the year and generally spill into the New Year. Today is the first “normal Monday” I have had in a while and it feels so good!
We had some snow on Friday for a hot minute… sigh. By Sunday it was all gone and the rains returned… by Sunday afternoon my poor yard was just one giant soggy (which then turned into the frozen tundra this morning!) Yep, weather whiplash is in high gear here… 40’s yesterday and a bitter 18° this morning.
I purposely left my Dickens Village up when I took down the remainder of Christmas… I really enjoyed it this year and leaving it up for these extra days has been a treat. But today I will take it all down and tuck it safely away for another year. I am ready for a “cleaner” mantle.
Today all this will be packed away!
Last week Bonny shared that she picked up some instant espresso to treat herself and I loved this little idea of “treating oneself”. It is one of the best self care things ever… to do something special for yourself! Some years ago I “treated” myself to a wee little Bialetti Moka Express Pot. It was the best purchase I ever made for myself! I soon added a 6-cup model and I use one of these pots every single day. I don’t own a drip coffee pot any longer. I make myself a pot every single morning and on the morning’s that Steve is here then I use the larger pot to split between us. About once a quarter I have to change the rubber gasket and once a year I put in a new filter in as well. As you can see it is well-used! (Barkeepers Friend keeps it nice and shiny!) The best part is that the only “waste” I have on a daily basis are coffee grounds and I can put them in a container to mulch into my garden.
1. All ready for service! 2. Fill with water to “this” line! 3. Next, fill the basket with grounds. 4. Finally, add some frothed milk and a splash of cinnamon syrup and enjoy!
And that is my best advice for you on this “back to normal” (??) Monday… treat yourself to something special today! And skip those guilty thoughts… just treat yourself! You are so very worth it!
Happy Monday All!
In December, as I began thinking about my word for this year… one of the things that I also spent some time contemplating was this blog. I thought long and hard about its future and I determined that I still had things to share, contributions to make, and, especially, the connections I have made here over the years! But, this blog does not write itself and that means that I have to make an actual effort to… well… create content to post here!
I have sort of mapped out a plan of post topics to help me “jump start” my creativity and so this First Friday it begins!
I will be doing quarterly “Currently” posts as a check in with myself… what am I doing. (or most importantly…what am I not doing and what should I be doing!)
Unpacking: My word! January is always such a fun month to spend looking at all the possibilities a word has and in the unpacking of the word, I always always find things I did not previously consider about the word. And I just love writing down definitions, writing down the “stream of words” that come to my mind as I unpack the word. Good things for January! It is the one month that I really like being at my desk!
Planning: Some January sewing! I think this is the *second* winter that has passed since I determined that I’d like a pair of corduroy pants… (THIS is exactly what these posts are going to help me do… be more accountable on the things I “talk” about wanting to get done! HA) Anyways… I simply love Sew House Seven’s Free Range Slacks and I plan on getting the pattern cut out this weekend so I am ready to start sewing on Monday! I also really need a couple of “nicer” sweat shirt-style shirts. I have had the Cosmos Sweatshirt pattern for a while now and I have these two lovely pieces of French Terry from Blackbird Fabrics. FOMU (that’s Fear Of Messing Up) has stymied me however. But I did not buy the fabric to just look at it! So I am breaking out from the fear and at least getting them washed and dried today! Then I will plan my next steps… I have not sewn knits is so long. (but thankfully Sewing YouTube has dozens of helpful videos!)
Shaking up: Friday Happy Hours! Boy, have they felt stale as the year ended. So I have been spent a little bit of time finding some new recipes and ideas to “spruce them up” a bit! Phase One starts tonight with a something freshly baked… stay tuned! (And I will be posting an update on IG! What??? LOL)
Speaking of Baking: In November I began making a “bucket” of dough and have been using Zoë François/Jeff Hertzberg 5-minute bread recipe. It keeps is the fridge for 2 weeks and makes it so simple to just pull out a bit of dough to make a loaf of very good bread! I expect this to continue as the dough can be used for pizza as well! It is nice having home made pizza every other week! (A favorite of ours is one with a chicken breast that I have previously cooked and shredded, some artichoke hearts, a drizzle of olive oil and some parmesan cheese!)
Watching: Call the Midwife and loving every second of it! (I also watched the first episode of Around the World in 80-days with DAVID TENNANT… so far, so good…and DAVID TENNANT!) These have been my “companions” while I have been spinning… and they are such very good company!
Spinning… with a plan in mind: I started a “sweater spin” last year and it sort of lost its sparkle. I love the fiber but the sweater part of the spinning has been the issue I think. So I changed the sweater plan… drastically! I knit Romi’s Morinne sweater (Rav link) some years ago and I love the design and fit so much… but the yarn I knit it with… not so much. It pills horribly and now after some years of wear it really looks like hell. This change in sweater has spurred on my spinning… as has the excitement of opening a little bit of fiber each day from Hipstrings Base12 Advent spin… which I thought was just spinning with no plan until yesterday… I think that this will make a lovely Hitchhiker (and I am sure that I will have more than enough yarn to knit a generous one!)
Bandwagon Knitting: I know that I said I was NOT doing any bandwagon knitting this year… but I should know better than to every say never… because on Wednesday night I jumped on the Musselburgh Wagon and began that fiddly little cast on. I am not through all the increases yet so I have not quite gotten to the “mindless knitting” portion of the hat… but soon!
And there you have the things that are currently filling the minutes of my days! What about you? Tell me one thing that you are really excited about!
Have a great weekend everyone and I will see you all back here on Monday!
Happy New Year, Dear Unravelers!
In the “Dead Zone” that is the week between Christmas and New Years I did some “retail therapy” with Miss Babs. Why, you ask, could I need more yarn?!? Well, suffice it that it felt right and so I did it! My year of making is going to include a bit of a Gnome-a-thon! Yes, I am joining Imagine Landscapes for her Year of Gnomes! There might have also been a few things that “fell” into my cart from the MDK sale as well. I got notification yesterday that my yarn from Miss Babs is on its way but have heard nothing yet about the MDK extravaganza heading my way! I am hoping that soon every.single.field.guide. will be here. If nothing else, it will be some excellent reading! Ha!
Meanwhile… I did begin the Base12 Advent Spin. Oh my, is this going to be fun. My plan is that I will spin half of the twelve packages on one bobbin, the other half on another bobbin and I will ply them together. I have no clue what is in any of the little packages but the first package (Number Five thanks to the roll of the cute little die) spun up beautifully. I don’t know the exact content of the wee little batt but there is silk… gosh it is lovely! And the tiniest bit of something shiny! (And that color! Yes, I am liking it!)
I also cast on a new knit! Remember that mohair silk from the hat I knit for myself last year? Well… I started a cowl (Thanks to Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise!) So far, so good… sort of. If I look closely at the fabric under very bright lights the pooling is quite horrid, imo. (It’s the mohair that is causing the problem… grrrr!) However, I am telling myself that I don’t think any of the pooling will be at all noticeable when it is around my neck and that is working… kinda, lol. Further, I am reminding myself that when I am wearing it I won’t be looking at it. Anyways, I am loving that the mohair seems much fluffier when paired with the handspun yarn that it did with the Weld. I would kind of like to have this done soonish, as we are finally supposed to get some actual winter-type weather in these parts!
Whew!! That is all the making that I got done since we last spoke!
The reading had highs and lows last week and I have NO finishes at all this week, thus far. I started Still Life but could not get it finished before it was due (yeah I did not start it when I got it… and silly me thought that I would be able to read it in a day or two which was not the case. So I am back on the holds list… sigh.)
In my ears is the very compelling tale about the Sackler’s – Empire of Pain… I might be finished with it next week, but maybe not… it is not a story that I can just “sit and get lost in” kind of book.
I did get one more book finished last year… it was a book from Netgalley and boy was it good! As for the other finish…well you can read below!
State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Oh my… I really, really, really wanted to love this book but boy did it fall flat.
I have read every Louise Penny book and a good number written by Secretary Clinton and separately, I love their voices… together…not so much.
I hated, hated, hated the “Three Pines” mentions… really… they did not work at all for me. I don’t like an abbreviated Gamache.
If you love Three Pines writing, and you love the things Secretary Clinton has written… you probably won’t like this book.
2.5 stars rounded up to three.
An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was the perfect way to end 2021… and I believe this brilliant little book is “must reading” for every single person in America. Really.
Patrisse Cullors gives the reader a road map to be a catalyst for change in the world… and I am not talking radical change (although I think if one applies all of her 12-steps it would radical!) This book seemed to me a series of love letters to yourself and to the people around you that you might interact with every single day.
The only reason I am giving this book 4-stars is because I truly wished it was longer… gosh, it was so good I did not want it to end.
If you want to be a better ally… read this book. But realize that if you do read this book, you will be setting yourself on the path to becoming a better human. And wouldn’t it be a wonder if everyone who reads this book suddenly finds themselves on the same path as everyone else!
I would like to thank Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the ARC of this audiobook. I highly recommend!
And that is all I have for today! What about you… any New Year Cast On’s? Any new books? Do tell!
As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!
Early in 2021… when I really wanted to bail on release…I began to ponder a new word and have had a bit of a running list for most of 2021.
Despite adding words to my list, I persevered with release but once the 4th quarter arrived I began thinking in earnest about what my new word might be for this year and I spent lots of time thinking about all those words on my list.
Unbelievably, not one of them made the cut… I know, it even shocked me because they all have so much potential!
In late November a couple of things happened in my life…my sister’s ongoing issues and the anniversary of my mom’s death – one thing I’d like to solve, the other I’d like to forget – but those are a story for another day. Anyways, those things kept me focused on release for the remainder of the year.
December was so heavy and as a solace I spent lots of time reading poetry and listening others read poetry and the things I discovered were amazing.
First, I stumbled across Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day and a phrase from the poem just jumped off the page and into my head. I had never heard those words before… even though I have read/heard the last sentence of the poem dozens of times… this bit was a revelation to me: Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Wow. Just wow.
Now my intention is not for this to be the most morbid “Hello, New Word” post in history, but true facts… I am 61 years old. If I am blessed to live as long as my nana… I just have 26 more years on this earth. And if I am not that blessed… well, you see the dilemma. So this year I want to begin to really use the things I learned in my Year of Focus and my Year of Intentional Living (and yes, in my Year of Release) and begin to fill my life with the things that matter and stop with the things that don’t matter all.
But what are those things? I think have some ideas, but this year I am going to really try and not waste any time on things that don’t matter. I want to be able to look back and see there was nothing else I should have done because I lived a FULL life to the last moments. I think I am so blessed to have spent such a hard year with release… because release led me to this path.
It is almost as if release said to me… now you are ready… fill yourself up!
(And in case you think my word should have been fill… I wanted to focus more on the result of being full which I hope will help me make my choices of what I “fill” wiser.)
Because being full does not mean just doing all.the.things.
Just before the year ended I listened to an episode of The Slow Down and Ada Limón shared these words of wisdom:
One question that I often get asked is how to overcome writer’s block. And the funny thing is, I overcome it, by not overcoming it. I think it’s OK to not write. I think it’s OK not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce. How can we listen to the world if we are always talking to the world?
Wait, what? It’s okay not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce?
These words were a bit of a balm for my spirit, let me tell you and coupled with Krista Tippet’s conversation about listening to the silence with Gordon Hempton, I knew I was on the right path. (sometimes I need to have the message hit me in the face multiple times before I get it… thank you, universe for making that happen so brilliantly!)
So I invite you to come along on this journey to see what I will fill myself up with this year and, hopefully, as I am ending 2022 and on the cusp of 2023, I will be on my way to being full of lots of wonderful things!
P.S. If you would like to hear Mary Oliver read her poem, you will find it here!
First… my final finish for 2021… Leave Gnome Stone Unturned… aka Gnombleberry and baby Gnewt!
Baby Gnewt is to die for!
That pocket tho’ and even though my duplicate stitched tree does not look like a tree far away… it sorta does close up!
Now onto my Year in Review Post! Ha!
It has been a much calmer year for making. I did not feel any compelling urge to knit.all.the.things. And although I do still have some UFO’s that I had hoped to complete… I didn’t. More on those UFO’s shortly but what I did finish does make quite a nice list:
- I knit 3 pairs of socks, 2 hats, 2 and a half gnomes (the latest of which are Gnombleberry and baby Gnewt – who counts for the half a gnome), 7 sweaters (of which 2 were test knits), 3 shawls (1 of which was a mystery shawl!), and 1 cowl.
- I did some sewing in 2021 as well. I sewed 2 pairs of pants, 1 Esme Tunic, 1 set of coasters, and I did some repair work on existing things in my wardrobe. I also made 7 hats for Winston. AND!! There was One Awesome Advent Calendar for Vivi and Winston!
- 2021 found me to be a sporadic spinner but!! Some of the things I knit this year were made with yarn I spun during the year… which was a first for me. I have quite a stash of handspun but I rarely knit with it. I would like to increase this sort of making in 2022… and I am looking forward to a January Base12 spin (yes it is a month late, but my finger is almost healed and I am planning some spinning time each week in 2022 and that “Advent spin” will be the perfect thing to kickstart a new habit!)
So The Grand Totals: 18 knit items, 13 sewn things, some sewing repairs, and a handful of spinning.
Now for the important bit… what did I learn?
I learned that if I do not have a “need” for an item… it loses its shine. Next year I am committed to not doing any “Ooo, its shiny and everyone is doing it” making. (These account for each and every one of the UFO’s that I have hanging around… I will finish them…hopefully!) The “Ooo, its shiny and everyone is doing making does not fit well with where I want to go next year. I have a closet full of sweaters that I don’t wear. I have more shawls than I can ever wear… even if I wore a different one every day for the remainder of the winter season I don’t think I would exhaust my stash of shawls. I have written a reminder quarterly on my calendar… no new sweaters or shawls…PERIOD!
Socks, though, are a different story… hopefully 2022 is going to find me upping my mending game. I have several pairs that have worn-out heels and I really like the socks so I’d like to find a way to repair them that keeps them wearable (not with a weird looking and highly uncomfortable mended patch.) But if that does not work, then I am not going to feel guilty about tossing them… it will make room for me to make another pair.
The big take away from 2021 is that it is challenging to be a maker with a full closet… so my goal for next year is to expand on my making. Some months ago, I signed up for a series of composition art classes (thanks, Kym!) but to date, I have not done one single thing in any class in the series. However, I have been working on preparing a place to do those classes as well as gathering supplies and I am eager to get started…so you will absolutely see a change in in what is made here at AsKatKnits in 2022.
I hope that whatever you are making in 2022, you will continue to share here with us all… because I think that no matter what you are making sometimes you just need to unravel it a bit… and this is the space for that!
My reading update is a bit more of a challenge, but I think I have figured out the best way to share it all with you.
I set a reading goal at 125 books and I did not make that goal (and I am unlikely to make the goal in the time I have left in 2021) But… I am not upset in the least at only reading 119 books this year because I set the goal to challenge myself… and it was a challenge! However, I think I read better books this year… I gave myself permission to “quit” a book that was just not working for me. This year I added 5 books to the “not for me” category on Goodreads and I experienced not one moment of guilt over any of them.
This year I found 45 books to be worthy of a 5-star rating… so almost 38% of the books I did read this year were very worth reading. And of those 45… here are my favorites:
- Most Memorable: A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, Braiding Sweetgrass, and Finding the Mother Tree
- Life Changing/Mind Opening: Wintering, Four Hundred Souls, The Sum of Us, Good Talk, and What Strange Paradise
- Incredibly Beautiful Writing: Almost anything by Niall Williams, almost anything by Elizabeth Strout, almost anything by Isabel Allende, and everything by Louise Erdrich.
- A Discovery of Poets: Margaret Noodin, Sharon Olds, Elizabeth Alexander, Pádraig Ó Tuama, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti
- Calgon Take Me Away Books: The Gabriel Allon Series
- Read With Us because without them I’d never have read: Shuggie Bain, Unsettled Ground, or Matrix. (and for me, 2021 was the year of discovering how much better a book can be when discussed with friends!)
You can see all my 2021 books here. Aside from the Read With Us category, I limited my highlighting books that got a 5-star rating but as you can see there were a good number (49) of 4-star books as well!
The good thing about so many of these books was that they were suggestions that I got from all of you! And I really hope that we continue to inspire each other with good books to read in 2022.
As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!
I will be back with you all next year! I wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year!