Thursday, August 15, 2013

Open Projects

During the school year life can get a bit crazy and it can be hard to find any creative time in my schedule. I work and we homeschool, and the boys have their "after school" activities in the evenings. Then there are the daily needs of the household and cleaning and cooking and spending time with my husband... and try as we might to protect our time and keep from being busy for busy-ness' sake, we sometimes find that our collective time is gone in a flash.

I don't know about you, but I literally get a bit twitchy if I go too many days in a row without making anything. Seriously, knitting or spinning for just 5 or 10 minutes before bed can provide a big dose of stress relief for me if I have a particularly busy week. The thing is, I don't always have the mental space to deal with more complex projects so I've found that I need a few projects going at a time so that I can knit every day, but not totally screw stuff up just because I'm tired (and if I'm messing up the easy stuff then I take it as a sign to put the needles down and just go to bed).

{Project Basket. Rule: if it fits in the basket it's not "too many projects".}

For instance, I pretty much always have a pair of vanilla socks on the needles in a little project bag ready to take with me at a moment's notice. I don't need a pattern for these socks and I can easily pick them up and knit 1 round or a few inches without much thought. They are perfect "on-the-go" knitting. I also frequently take socks into the music studio with me so that if I have a student unexpectedly cancel or come a few minutes late I might sneak a row or 10 in in the middle of the workday.

I don't knit a lot of lace in a year, but I do try to knit some as I'm able. It challenges me to pay attention, follow the chart, maybe learn a new technique... and that helps me grow as a knitter. My lace projects tend to take a long time- not because they are super difficult, but because I don't often have long stretches of time to really work at them.

Most everything else I knit is a product of either filling a need, like the cardigan I'm knitting for Ellie or the Shapely Boyfriend cardigan for myself (that I really will finish!), or serving as a gift for someone. I'm not at all bothered by having so many things technically on the needles at once. Whenever I get overwhelmed or it seems like there are a lot of "open" projects on my Ravelry page I go on a finishing spree and set a limit for myself of how much must be finished before I'm allowed to cast on something else.

For example, at the moment I have 6 open projects. The Shapely Boyfriend cardigan hasn't been worked on in awhile. I'll admit to passive aggressively leaving it in my WIP basket and secretly hoping that I'll pick it up one day to find that the knitting elves have finally arrived and knit the sleeves for me. But it's starting to stay cool out unseasonably early this year (we are usually blazing around 90-100 F through August and September, but this year have been mostly in the 80s) and I'm finding myself in need of more cardigans. So as soon as I finish Ellie's cardigan and the hat for my niece, I'll pick up that cardigan and finish those blasted sleeves.[Edit: I wrote most of this post last night before knitting- I thought I'd let you know that I finished that little baby hat right up during a few episodes of Big Bang Theory. Now to resist the urge to cast on mittens.]

The thing is, in the middle of finishing those things I'm also likely to cast on for a pair of mittens or two and probably another cardigan for my little girl in another size or two up so I can stay ahead of her crazy growth. I know the boys each need another sweater for this winter since they grew again too, and at some point I should make some mittens for myself, right? After all the pairs I've knit for others, surely one pair should stay with me...

It's really the children's fault that I have so many projects going at once. That's what it comes down to.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yarn Along: Fickle

{Yarning Along with Ginny}

This week I:

Finished the lace work on the little purple hat for my niece. 

Finished the "Upper Edge" for the Kernel scarf and started the "Lower Edge".

Added about 2 inches to the leg of one of my grey and coral vanilla socks.

Cast on for Cerus and completed one very long row.

Put a little more time into one of the sleeves for Ellie's cardigan.

It all adds up to a lot of stitches and a ton of progress, but not a very flattering picture. The lace work all looks like a pile of yarn (as lace tends to look before it's finished and blocked) and there is no discernable progress on the socks, Cerus or Ellie's cardigan to anyone other than me. If I could have focused myself into one thing I'm sure I'd have an awesome photo for you.

Our local schools are back in session this week so it hit me on Monday that it is almost fall and Ellie will need mittens and a hat and I was hoping for mittens myself, and a good warm scarf (hence the Cerus). The boys both need hats, and I'm sure they'll request scarves since theirs are a couple years old.

I know the right answer to this situation is to buckle down on a few things (namely Kernel and Ellie's cardigan) and then jump into fall knitting, but I just can't seem to focus my attention I really want to cast on EVERYTHING in sight and I'm trying so very hard to resist. Next week I'll either have a ton of progress on specific projects to share with you, or I'll have 14 million new projects started and look like a crazy person.

I just started reading Chosen by Ted Dekker last night, and the boys and I started reading the first Boxcar Children book together yesterday. I also have Catherine, Called Birdy from the library since it was one of the chapter books I wanted to consider reading with the boys in connection with our history study this year, but I can't get into it. If I don't enjoy the first chapter or two, I'm pretty sure it's not a book I'll be able to get the boys into.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In the Garden

We're up to 13 cucumbers in the last few days- not quite enough to can pickles, but maybe enough to make some to keep in the fridge. The boys are eager to try making our own pickles. I'm thinking next year we need 4 or 5 plants instead of 2 to give it a really good shot.

Ellie is doing a great job helping us pick things out of the garden, but still picking some things a little too early. If I can get her to stop eating the tomatoes as she picks them I might end up with enough grape tomatoes to roast.

I'm trying to decide what to do with the jalapenos- maybe I'll just slice them and freeze them to use later? Roast and then freeze? Pickle?

Monday, August 12, 2013


I went to sew with friends on Saturday mornings and was rudely interrupted by a migraine. I had to leave early and go to bed for much of the rest of the day. The boys were able to help Brian outside all afternoon cleaning up one of the overgrown beds in the backyard. Ellie went happily back and forth, outside for a bit and inside with me. She would get very upset if she caught sight of the tractor outside through the window. Ellie seems to believe that the tractor is her personal carriage.

I made some adjustments for school this weekend and gave each of the boys a reading placement test. Ezra's reading is coming along nicely and he's a little bit ahead. Ender is doing great as well and reading a few grades ahead. I'm having a hard time deciding what to have him read- I want to have him read at the level he can read, but I don't want him to read topics that are too mature for him. I'm pulling back in a few other school areas and doing more in others. I always seem to come into the new school year with a little too much to do, see what the boys enjoy and then adjust, making sure we are still covering what needs to be covered.

We're definitely enjoying our reading list so far. I tried to include as much science as possible for Ender which has made him a lot more enthusiastic about getting started each morning. He knows that as soon as he finishes math and language arts in the morning it's on to snap circuits and reading about scientists and how machines work and projects... and for this kid who doesn't *love* school, it's exciting for me to see. Reading is now easy for him and that has made all the difference in the last few months. It makes all of schooling easier and he can really be self-led in his project work now that he can read and follow the directions himself.
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