Wednesday, March 26, 2008

January, February and March are traditionally the slow season for the wedding industry. Brides generally prefer to be married when the landscape is full of color instead of dried brown grass and trees. Some brides prefer Spring when the temperatures are mild, the breezes still cool and the landscape is in bloom. Some brides prefer the summer months, especially June, for the grand, old tradition of being a "June Bride." Within the last decade or so it has even become very popular to have a fall wedding and incorporate the colors of the changing leaves into the wedding.

Yet January, February and March are still out of vogue for today's brides and I can't say that I blame them. Random ice and snow storms can wreak havoc on guests (and vendors) making it to the wedding. It's often too cold and dead-looking outside to do any outdoor pictures. The exception to this tends to be the Christmas wedding. These weddings are usually held in the weeks leading up to Christmas or the weekend immediately following Christmas. Churches have up all of their decorations and lights and the brides often wear beautiful fur-trimmed, hooded capes. Relatives and friends are often in town visiting for the holidays and everyone tends to be in a festive mood.

But excluding the Christmas-theme weddings it is a slow time for someone who's primary business is wedding related. This can be challenging financially but mentally is a much needed break. During the heat of wedding season I often shoot two weddings a weekend and have even done three in a weekend. I even once shot three weddings in 36 hours (which I'll never do again!). Most people don't understand why we work ourselves so hard and book so many weddings. The only people I've found who do understand this are my grandparents. You see, they are farmers. They understand that you have to harvest when the crop is ready and the weather is clear. You have to get up early and stay up late to get the harvest in because there could be a storm coming and you need the profit from the crop to carry you through until next season. Although a completely different industry the idea and urgency is the same.

Mentally the break has been wonderful. I am actually caught up with my business which I've never been able to say before. My turnaround time on work has been faster than ever and I've felt much more relaxed. I've managed to spend more time with family, cook more, knit more and blog more. Things that have been on the back burner because there were more pressing matters to deal with have finally received the attention they deserve. It's also allowed me some time for introspection and planning. I've been making connections and discovering solutions to problems. I'm not so tired. I wish I could say my house is sparkling and immaculate, but come on, I have three kids.

Over the last week I've been thinking about some personal issues I'd like to deal with. They've always been there and to be honest most of the time I feel hopeless about dealing with them. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person so I feel like if I'm going to change a behavior I need to dive in and change everything, anything less was failure. Obviously this is nothing but a set-up for failure. I've been thinking about baby steps. Almost every program for helping yourself (weight, health, finances, cleaning, Bible study) touts the benefit of baby steps. The word has never appealed to me, it sounds as though they are talking down to me (ridiculous, huh?).

Lately though I've been looking at my knitting and connecting it to my everyday life. The day before me is like the start of a new row. If I work little by little, stitch by stitch on the decisions before me I can get through the day. Starting a knitting project would seem impossible if I told myself I had hundreds of thousands of stitches to do and couldn't make any mistakes. If I added a stitch or knitted the pattern incorrectly I'd have to throw the project away and berate myself for my stupidity. Nice, huh? The reality is that the project is big and long but there is reward at the end. I will make mistakes but I can fix them and keep going. Some mistakes will cost more time and frustration than others but they also teach me to be more careful next time and pay better attention. The most important realization for me is that although I don't see the end result of the sweater in the first row or as I'm knitting day by day, stitch by stitch, without the daily work there would be no sweater at the end. It takes the little bits of effort which seem to do nothing at the time but add up over time to a beautiful garment.

These realizations on the daily devotion it takes to do everything worthwhile has been a great connection for me to make. The struggle will be carrying through on it when life gets crazy. I've enjoyed my break and am starting to feel tense again about the approaching wedding season. It's starting to ramp back up again. After several relaxing weekends at home I will have two weddings this weekend and then will be back to working every weekend again. I've learned a lot over the last several years and hope I can continue to learn and grow and incorporate what I've learned into my daily life.

I need to knit the knits, purl the purls, check my gauge and watch the pattern. If I can keep with it the end result will be so worth it.

Goodbye January, February and March. I'll do my best to keep posting...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Here is the current progress on the two-at-a-time socks. I had planned on making the top portion longer but became concerned about having enough yarn so I went with this length.

I turned the heel on both of them and am now working my way down the foot. It seems to be taking forever but I think a large part of that is because of all the time I spent ripping back and then re-knitting it when I accidentally knit them together.

I may try a slightly different version of the short row heel next time to see if I can eliminate the tiny eyelet holes I got this way. They look pretty and aren't really noticeable but it's always fun to try new techniques. I do wish I had remembered to pick up an extra stitch or two before I joined back in the round on the heel as it would have eliminated/minimized the lovely holes I have now. No biggie, this project is all about learning for me!

Isn't this yarn beautiful?! Last week we attended a funeral in Newton so afterwards I stopped into The Newton Beadery to look at their yarn. I was so excited to see that they carry the Lorna's Laces line of yarns. I've been looking at the Lion & Lamb online as I'd like to make a Clapotis one of these days from it. Since that's currently out of the budget I purchased two skeins of Shepherd Sock in Gold Hill. It's so pretty I can't wait to cast on with it.

I also made a visit to Twist yesterday. I had recently noticed that my current purse was dying a slow, painful death. The straps were tearing both against the body of the bag and also in the middle of the handle. I decided this was obviously the universe telling me that I needed to purchase a new bag big enough to hold basic purse stuff as well as a knitting project so I'd always have my knitting with me. This fits the bill:

I'm still adjusting to the new, bigger bag but so far I'm loving it. I was a little disappointed it didn't have a divider. When I first looked at it I thought it did have a divider but it turned out to be the piece that fits in the bottom of the bag that had slid up the side. In a fit of organization I had recently purchased some clear cosmetic bags and had everything from my purse organized into two of them (one for cosmetics one for pens/office type stuff). Changing purses was a snap. I just tossed the clear bags, my wallet and cell phone (and knitting project! squee!) into the new bag and I was set. Took it out for it's first outing last night at the drive-in and it worked great. Unfortunately won't be taking it out for Easter tomorrow as it clashes horribly with my dress.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I had planned on taking some pictures of our Irish dinner the other night but the family devoured it before any pictures could be taken. I have a divine recipe for Irish Soda Bread that is soooo yummy (and easy, bonus!). This recipe makes two loaves of bread which is great, because then there is plenty left over for breakfast for the rest of the week. Well, I've been noticing how much more food the family seems to be going through lately (see: growing children) and this was no different. Before dinner was over one loaf was entirely gone and the second was cut into slices and they were working on it as well. There was a few tablespoons of corned beef left and a bowl of veggies but that was all. Good heavens can those kids eat! I've started doubling some entrees so that I'll have plenty for dinner and left overs for lunches. I really thought the kids would be older before I'd have to start doing that, but that time is already here. Looks like I'm going to have to start doubling on a more regular basis.

Speaking of cooking, the last time I was at the grocery store I went to buy flour and it was $1.98 for a 5 lb. bag of Wal-Mart brand flour. $1.98?! I know within the last year or two it was $0.77 for that same bag of flour (more on how I know that later). I fear that one day soon I will have a breakdown in a public place over the ridiculous skyrocketing prices of EVERYTHING. It is as though every other industry has noticed that fuel prices went through the roof and the consumers just had to take it and keep buying, keep living their lives. The other industries noticed and decided they would try it too. Now, perhaps this isn't the case with flour. To be perfectly honest I haven't researched the flour/wheat crisis at all, although I do recall overhearing one day on the news that there was a grain crisis of some kind. Maybe there is, I don't know. It just seems unlikely to me that there is some kind of "crisis" in almost every tangible good that we need to purchase. Fuel? Crisis! Wheat? Crisis! Natural gas? Crisis! Dairy? Crisis!

I'm wondering how much more the general public can take before people start to lose it. I'm a fairly mild-mannered gal from the Bible belt. If I'm getting fed up with it all than I'm sure everyone else is as well.

OK, I'll get off my soap box and calm down my crazy eyes here.

You may be wondering, "Why on earth would she remember that a 5 lb. bag of flour from Wal-Mart used to cost $0.77?" That is because of the awesome little program, Handy Shopper! (and also because I have a ridiculous memory that remembers dates and numbers for no apparent reason but I can't remember how many chest compressions to do for CPR. Useful, no?) Handy Shopper is this great little program for Palms that lets you create shopping lists. You can create your lists for different stores and for each item you can enter the price as well as aisle number. I LOVE this software. After I have compiled my list at home I have a pretty good idea of exactly how much money I'll be spending based on the prices from last time. Perhaps the most convenient aspect of Handy Shopper though is the ability to sort your grocery list by aisle. Eliminates forgetting something and having to run back across the store to get it. It also lets you keep track of when the store has raised the prices on products since you have the cost from your previous trip already in it. It keeps a running total of how much you've spent through the store for each time to click that you've picked up an item. So if you're slightly OCD like me this is a great program. You can note price increases and rant like a crazy person afterwards (see above).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Does anyone else's husband talk (ok, and yell) to the tv as though the athletes playing can actually hear every precious bit of coaching he's giving them?

Monday, March 17, 2008


After a very frustrating two days I'm happy to report that my Siamese socks have been successfully separated. It seems that at some point on Saturday I made the horrible mistake of not switching yarn balls and managed to connect the socks. This horrible mistake was sadly not noticed until I had knit another two inches past it. If I were a clever knitter I'm sure I would have figured out a quick and easy way to fix this mistake. However, not being a clever knitter and terrified that I would make this mistake much worse I painstakingly unknit both socks back to the mistake two stitches at a time. This took many hours. I was not a happy mama during this time. I stayed up last night until my back and neck were aching from the concentration of trying to unknit and not drop a bajillion stitches. I finally worked my way back to the mistake this morning and have successfully separated them and even knitted a few new(? repeated?) rows past the mistake. They are happily divided and you better believe I'll be more compulsive about checking them frequently to make sure I don't do that again!

What is so frustrating is that I had been very vigilant about making sure I had the correct yarn at each switching point but it only took one time to make the mistake and it cost me hours of irritation. Oh well, I'm back on track again.

I do have to say that I'm loving the two-at-a-time knitting. I love seeing the progress and knowing that I'm close to actually being done with the entire project not just the first sock. I love efficiency! I spied some new sock yarn I'll be picking up soon. Some of the ladies in class were making their socks out of this adorable Panda Cotton which was so soft and knit up lovely.

Better run, the kids are all home on Spring Break and already making me a little nuts. It sounds as though one is practicing the piano, another the drums (we don't have any drums) and the other is rummaging in the kitchen. ::sigh::

I also have to start on dinner. Tonight is our traditional Corned Beef, Potatoes, Cabbage, Carrots & Irish Soda Bread dinner. It's every one's favorite and sooooooo good.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Today I took the kids to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Wish it had been a little warmer!

"Mama! No more pictures!"

We had a great time, I was surprised at how long the parade was. It lasted for an hour. The kids scooped up plenty of candy and are all now ready for some afternoon naps. Here are a few snapshots of what we saw.


A green dog

Elaborate balloon costumes

The new mascot for our semi-pro baseball team, the Wichita Wingnuts. (Yes, it's a squirrel. I'm not entirely sure what a squirrel has to do with a wingnut. I'm guessing that having a screw for a mascot would have just been an invitation for too much trouble. But a squirrel? I get that squirrels hide real nuts but it's a stretch to try to connect it with wingnuts. ::sigh::)

Irish Dancers

A quasi self-portrait in the shiny side of a Model T. Wished I had brought my professional camera when I saw the reflections...

Those wild & crazy Shriners

Now it's back to sock knitting in hopes I can get a little closer to where I need to be before class in a few hours...

Friday, March 14, 2008

What was I thinking? Size 1 needles? Seriously? There is absolutely no way these will be done far enough down to actually do the heel flap tomorrow at class.

Of course it probably would have helped if I had worked on it more this week but that didn't happen. I won't mention the preemie hat I worked on. ::Ahem:: After looking over the progress of the socks I had a brief urge to dive into another easy, little preemie hat, but I resisted. Avoidance won't get these socks done, as I've proved all to well this week.

I'm not too sure about the yarn yet. I liked it in the hank, loved it when it was wound into balls but I'm a little iffy on it knit up in the socks. I better get off this computer and get back to work. We'll see how far I can get before class tomorrow...
This morning on the way to school my oldest daughter told me the following joke that she made up.

M: "If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?"
Me: ?
M: "Pilgrims!"
Me: ??
M: "Get it? Like the Mayflower?"

I thought it was cute. Of course knowing kids she very well could have heard it somewhere else but I still thought it was funny.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I have finally managed to sew the buttons onto the slippers. I've had everything in the knitting bag ready to go but I kept finding other knitting things I'd rather do than sew on buttons. I do love the buttons I've put on my slippers.

These were my favorite little buttons from the button tin. Love them! The detailing is so sweet I just couldn't part with them. My slippers are a tad small width wise so if I make them again for myself I'll make some adjustments to the pattern. The slippers I made for my sister, Jill, are much better width wise but are a tad bit too long. Here are her slippers all finished and ready for mailing.

I actually like Jill's slippers better than mine, the Noro worked up beautifully. The colors are great.

In between the last post and the sewing on of the buttons on the slippers I made a couple of preemie hats to donate to the local NICU. They were fun to do and very fast and cute. I've had a couple of migraines and it's put a bit of a damper on the knitting so when I've had headache-free time I've wanted to work on something easy. These preemie hats fit the bill.

The first hat is the Eyelet Preemie Hat. I made a mistake on the yarn purchase so it turned out a little bigger than I think it should have. But the yarn is so yummy and cute I'll just make some adjustments to the pattern and needle size and make some more that will hopefully be smaller.

This is the other little preemie hat I finished last night. It is the Preemie Spiral Hat. I (gasp) actually used the correct weight yarn so it turned out perfectly. And so tiny! I made the smallest size which is suppose to fit a 1-3 lb. baby.

Tonight I'll get back to work on my two-at-a-time socks. I've been putting it off because it's a bit intimidating still. And you know, that's how I deal with things that stress me out, I put them on the back burner. Very mature, huh? I had wanted to use a pretty pattern for the sock but I think I'm just going to need to buck up and make a plain stockinette sock and worry more about getting the hang of the technique than worrying about a pretty design on them. Must let go and move on.

And finally I have to share a picture of my assistant at the little blog photo shoot. He's so handsome and he's alllll mine ;-)
"Take my picture Mommy!"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I've finished the crochet work on both sets of Mary Jane slippers and now they each only need buttons and they'll be complete. I was driving along thinking about how I needed to swing by a store that sold buttons to pick some up when I remembered the post the Yarn Harlot recently made about her button box. I have a Stetson tin that I inherited from my DH's grandmother that is full of vintage and antique buttons (probably more vintage than antique).

Although I never met her, I love this tin of buttons. She was obviously a very frugal woman as many if not most of these buttons were clipped from garments and kept. You can still see the threads on many of them. Most of them are rather plain and utilitarian but there are some gems in there as well. For this project I was only after some basic black buttons so I dumped the tin and began sorting through them all.

These are the finalist and will be placed on the slippers for sizing and then I'll make my final decision. Now tonight I can sit down and sew them on and they will be officially done! Can't wait to have them finished. The crochet edging wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. I found some great tutorials (and videos) at NexStitch. They were very helpful and cleared up any questions I had.

Yesterday I also had my first class at Twist for trying to learn Two-at-a-Time Socks. Wow. For a while I felt as though I was trying to decipher written Russian but by the end I think I was finally grasping it all. At least that's what Jackie, one of the teachers, told me and I'll take that as proof.

I love the yarn I picked out.

I picked it up at Twist on Friday. I had a hard time narrowing down my choice but finally settled on this. It actually looks prettier after Shelly wound it up. I haven't heard of the company before. It's made by Family Pendragon and so far knits up beautifully. While I heard several ladies complaining that their yarn was splitting I didn't have any problems with mine. I say so far because I haven't made much progress yet.

I really enjoyed the class and hope I can spend some time this week getting the hang of the two-at-a-time socks. It's a bit much for me to wrap my head around but I think if I just keep at it, it will all come together. I love my DPNs but I would really love to work on and finish two socks at once. I'm all about efficiency and time management :-) I'll have to be a quick knitter this week since we're learning the heel at our next class on Saturday. And since I'm such a Type A with all things sewing related I'm going to frog them and re-start them again since the ribbing is off on one sock. But first I think I'll make another preemie hat tonight....

Thursday, March 06, 2008

You've heard of Typhoid Mary? Well just call me Influenza Amy...

What's worse than having the flu? Having all three of your kids and your husband having it at the same time! Thank heavens we have more than one bathroom. I've managed to keep everyone in their own bedrooms and I'm busy running around washing copious amounts of laundry and spraying everything that doesn't move with Lysol. Although at this point we should probably just use a flamethrower and destroy everything that has been touched. I'm pretty sure fire is the only thing that could possibly kill this virus. It's obviously highly contagious as we're always super careful about keeping the sick person secluded to one room/bathroom and keep the rest of the family away. It usually works but not this time.

In knitting news I started on the crochet border on my Mary Jane slippers. I found some great online crochet instructions similar to which were helpful. I managed to get the first slipper's edging done when I noticed that I had picked up my stitches on the wrong portion of the edge at one point. It was more of an appearance issue and I couldn't stand how it looked so I ripped it back out to that point and started over last night on it. In between the ripping out and starting over I made a preemie hat. It's very cute but frankly looks a tad big to be a preemie hat. I hit gauge but I think the pattern may be a bit big. I think I'll see if I can tweak it a bit and make a few more. It's really cute.

Better run, there's much laundry and cleaning to do (and hopefully some knitting while they nap!).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Three Words:

The Flu, Again.

Thank heavens God has given me a few days of feeling well sprinkled throughout these ongoing flu bugs. I've been sick (more on than off) since mid-January. Can't begin to tell you just how sick and tired I am of being sick. Thankfully the bulk of the illness have been the exhausting respiratory flu and not the stomach flu that I endured for the last go-around. I would rather do almost anything than have the stomach flu. It thankfully waited until Saturday evening before it kicked in so I was able to work Friday in between illnesses. I actually thought it was food poisoning until my poor boy came down sick last night. I'm hoping he doesn't get as sick as I did.

Sick of being sick.

My poor husband has been taking care of sick people for almost two months now. He told me I was taking this in sickness and in health thing a little far (he was teasing of course!) but I do feel awful for him. I'm definitely going to have to take him out for dinner at his favorite restaurant and a macho movie after everyone is all better. He deserves it!