Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image

Random

A Teeny Darn

Maybe two teeny darns.

The first darn is a metaphorical darn. I give a very small darn that I haven’t blogged more. There’s a lot going on, and almost all of it isn’t happening to me. It’s happening to people I support and love, and so I find it exhausting and stressful and difficult, and I also don’t feel that it’s appropriate to share those stories on the blog. So that leaves me feeling a tad inauthentic… which means I don’t blog.

But I miss blogging. Soooo I may make veiled allusions to crappy days if need to; or not. But I miss sharing what I create. Another effect of all the everything is that my publishing designs is on hiatus – I’m still designing – I’m always knitting – but the editing and publishing takes a lot of mental focus that I just don’t have right now.

The second darn is a literal; mom had a small hole in one of her sweaters.

IMG_6927

Normally I’d sort of shrug, and roll my eyes at a hole in a store-bought sweater. But this is a wool sweater, people, and she likes it. Mom has been resisting wool for a looooooong time (she’s a delicate flower, you know). So in the interests of advancing my wool agenda, I volunteered to mend it.

IMG_6928

(I started by sewing around the hole.  That area is about the size of a pea.)

I darn my wool socks because they take a long time to knit. And I have a couple pairs of jeans that I lend by hand, because I like the patterns of wear. So I figured I would approach this very light and fine sweater in the same way as a sock.  Start by securing the edges, then create fabric over top by weaving.

IMG_6930

This is where I was creating warp threads – the thread itself had more oomph than the sweater material. (The thread is what I use to mend my jeans, it’s a variegated cotton buttonhole twist.)

IMG_6931

If it weren’t multicoloured, or on the top of the wrist (aka: obvious spot), I probably would have said good enough.  Or if it were for me.  If it was for me, realistically, it wouldn’t have been a blue sweater and I would have done a contrasting mend… but that’s another story!

IMG_6938

So I decided to break out my rusty embroidery skills. As we are in the car, I McGuyvered a foundation for the stitching out of a piece of paper napkin, and stitched some leaves and then made myself proud by remembering how to neatly execute French knots.  I don’t think I’ve made a French knot since I was fifteen…

I’ve been doing more sewing, and that’s probably what the next posts will be about. Hope all is well in your world!

And Sometimes It’s Just To Keep Going

There’s a phrase that’s been rolling around my head a lot lately – “Start the way you mean to go on”.  Seems like good and straightforward advice, right? So why has it been so stuck in my head?

After mulling, I think it’s because it’s easy.  Starts are exciting, and new, and shiny, and it’s easy to work up enthusiasm for a new project*.  But to continue to have enthusiasm for an ongoing project, well.  Sometimes that’s more of a challenge.  And sometimes when projects have been going on for long enough that they don’t even really seem like a project anymore, they just become part of the background and rote activities.  And then you realize that everything important feels like old habits and the ‘excitement’ is new otter videos and then it’s perhaps time to reflect on things.  And step back from social media a tad.

Perhaps the trick is to keep going; accept that maybe some of the shiny intentions and ideas are maybe not as shiny as they used to be, but good things are worth persevering.

img_4214
(Live, from the kitchen table! It’s a PD day today, so my laptop is on the kitchen table so that I can supervise the littles playing minecraft on the old laptop.)

My new project is all my old projects.  Evaluating and re-engaging.  I want to be more mindful and involved in the world around me; I’ve been a bit wrapped up in just a lot of nothing.  I’m mulling what’s really important to me; what’s a priority to me; what’s worth working for.  In short, seeing new kitten videos on facebook is not on the top of that list**.  What is? Helping the littles grow into successful people***.  Being creative.  Being grateful for everything around me.  Staying connected to the people that are important to me.  Helping others.  Staying fit so I can stay healthy as long as possible****.

Maybe it’s that I turn forty this year, maybe it’s that the littles are not-so-little anymore, maybe it’s just that it’s fall.  I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time, I want to cherish all the moments I have.  So in that direction, I started a new daytimer.  It’s a basic black moleskine, which is terribly functional but also sort of boring.  It’s actually like the new go-cup I got – it was on sale, but it’s so bland and innocuous that I keep forgetting it’s mine.

img-orchid

Happily, I know just how to fix things.  If, by fix, you mean “change to suit myself”.  Altering things is not something I am typically scared of.  I have the skills and tools to modify quite a few things, actually…  For the boring day planner and go cup, I decided to skip stickers or decoupage (both of which are fun), and go for alcohol inks (which I have in my stash).  I’ve been puttering with alcohol inks for a while; I have quite a few finished works that I am really pleased with (the preceding orchid picture is one).  They are typically done on Yupo paper, or other non-porous surfaces like acrylic or glass.  I’ve never used it on a surface like the cup or book… but I figured worst case I can wash a stainless steel cup in rubbing alcohol and if the book cover went sideways, I could always head to ModgePodge.

  img_4218

I’m pleased with the planner – it has a slightly luminous quality that I like.  I hadn’t planned on the etched surface texture, but one of the paintbrushes I was using decided to up and shed like crazy.  So that scratches were my technique to get the hairs off without trashing the surface I was happy with.  It has dried nicely with a pleasant finish; it’s not sticky or gummy or weird or anything.  The cup I am also happy with – although it took a little tinkering.  The indigo colour I used ran waaaaay more than I anticipated; so one side of the cup was really terrific, and one side was a solid blue blodge.  I washed it to make sure of the water-fastness – yep, water doesn’t disturb the inks at all!  Then I decided to add some surface texture… which mean that I scrubbed it with steel wool.  It abraded the dark blue into a lighter and more interesting colour, and didn’t change the pink or orange too much.  So it’s voted a win too!

img_4217
(It’s a montage!)

img_4213

And now that I have rebooted the blog yet again, I am off to work on other things for the day.  Sadly my deep thoughts haven’t extended to a clever closing paragraph, sooo… I’ll just leave… and feel awkward…  I’ll be folding towels, which is part of Project: Creating Home.  As opposed to The Endless Monontony of Housework.  I reframed how I look at taking care of the house.  I’m still not nuts for housework, but it helps to view it as a way to create home.

*At least, for me it is.  Ask any knitter with chronis start-itis…

**Although I do love a good kitten video.  Misdirection with cute kitten videos once helped me get the littles through the heartbreak of the end of a movie…

***People that are kind and loving and have joy in their life.  Success is not about preassigned goals of career or wage, in this house.

****All my favorite hobbies involve a nice, brisk sit.  Knitting, reading, watching movies… It takes me some work and focus to get active.

Ever Notice That There’s Always Something?

Have you ever noticed that?  That sometimes, it seems like whatever you want to do or have planned, there’s some higher power out to thwart you.

There isn’t.  There really isn’t.  If there is a higher power (and I sort of think there must be), I am confident that it is as about as interested in my knitting projects (and able to directly affect it) as I am in an ant`s attempt to move a breadcrumb.

For example, I have three patterns I’m in varying stages of writing, and a year of bookkeeping for the company to wind up.  I’d like to get all of this done by the end of next week.  And of course, a couple evenings ago, my ceiling chose to fall.  Does that sound dramatic?  It sort of was.  The littles had been in bed for maybe twenty minutes; the man & I were watching tv, and SPLAT.   Part of the ceiling stipple fell down.

SPLAT!  Splat splat.  The man got a drill, I got a bucket and a drop cloth, and we spent the next several hours messing with the ceiling and trying to figure out what was happening…

IMG_4357

Turns out that one of the lag bolts on the toilet was broken, and the wax seal was either broken or unseated or had decided it really needed a break, and short of a trip to a beach in the Bahamas, the Calgary landfill would do.

IMG_4355

I was feeling oppressed by it.  I’m glad we were home and awake when it happened – that would have been an awful surprise to wake up to – and the first chunk of ceiling landed on my favorite chair.  So I fixed** it.  With a staple gun and a roll of craft paper.

IMG_4366

Call it an art installation – Phoenix Rising.  It’s about the emotional life of the ceiling.  Conceptual art.  Very high concept, actually – I could hardly reach the ceiling with the staple gun!

Anyways, despite the little voice in my head that says “Man, it’s a sign. This pattern is crap and you should trash it and do something useful”, I continue to edit the three patterns.  There’s always something; and I’ve learned that every single project of mine goes through a stage where I just want to walk away from it.  It varies from a mild feeling of distaste to a strong desire to light it on fire. It’s a neat trick to discern between that demoralizing voice, and the voice of reason that occasionally pipes up and says “Gee, that doesn’t look like the right ____and it hasn’t looked like the right ____ for about ten rows now…

I tend to err on the side of optimism, which means a good deal of the projects that I end up frogging have more work invested into them than they really should have – but I am happier knitting on an obvious failure that trashing a really fine idea.  Depression and self-doubt are sneaky bastards, I have to be vigilant against them.

Speaking of vigilance, I am due to start to work on the bookkeeping.  There is a deal I`ve made with myself – a couple hours on patterns, a couple hours on books.  The books are a heck of a lot easier, and yet, less fun!

*First we both ran upstairs – because that spot is pretty well directly below the kids’ washroom.  There was no water visible.

**Fixed, as in, rendered it funny so that until it is properly fixed by a professional, it makes me want to laugh, instead of cry.

Introducing the Lady Jayne Hat!

lady jayne 461 - Copy - Copy (2)

I’m a nerd – this is not news. And my latest nerd-inspired knit is here – the Lady Jayne Hat. Jayne is a mercenary who works in space; he has a unique hat that he wears because his mom made it for him. I found the Sweet Georgia Party of Five yarn kit, and I just had to make a hat for myself.  It’s available on Ravelry now for $6.00.  buy now

lady jayne 365 - Copy - Copy (3)

The beading and lace might be a bit much for even the toughest man; but I love it. The instructions are written and charted, and there are instructions to include or omit beads and how to use a group of graduated colours.

It’s in two sizes; Small[Large], with a brim circumference of 42[48.5]cm / 16.5[19]”.  The brim to crown measurement is 24cm/9.5”.

lady jayne 381 - Copy

It works well in any fingering weight – while beads in a toque might seem counter intuitive, they don’t add any chill and the lace pattern isn’t open enough to let much coldness in. That said, I tend to use it as a fashion accesssory, not as a winter survival hat. :)

lady jayne 442 - Copy - Copy - Copy

It’s available now on Ravelry for $6.00USD. buy now

Mindfulness & Gravity

We just had a long weekend.  If you have littles in school on the prairies, odds are that the school boards lined up in-services or other flavours of days off with the long weekend, and you had a super-long weekend!  We sure did – and we spent part of it on the road to Saskatchewan.  We visited my family, and swam, and had all sorts of fun.

The great thing about a ten hour drive (when you aren’t the one driving) is the amount of knitting and napping that you can accomplish.  Sure, there is some maintenance on the back-seat crew – doling out snacks, charging ipods, settling fights.  By and large, though, it’s all potentially fun* time!  And I made good use of it.  I knit, napped, listened to an audio book and did some meditating.

The focus of this meditation is gratitude – to be grateful for the goodness that surrounds you.  Perhaps I need to be listening to a mindfulness meditation instead – at Mom’s I surfed down a steep flight of stairs on my arse.  It’s good that I’ve been learning to ski – leaning back was my instinctive reaction and I’m sure it saved me from a really nasty fall.  As it is, I have some spectacular bruises.

I was headed down the stairs, looked up at a lamp, thought “I should turn that off”, then my foot slipped and the rest, as they say, is history.

So I am feeling very grateful that my fall was not worse – I’ve got a solid bruise that is 5″ tall and the width of my hips.  And bruises on my back and also my arm.  The fortunate thing is (also) that I’ve been going to the gym frequently, so my arse is more muscular than it has been in the past!

The lessons I’m taking from this is a) don’t wear socks on steep hardwood stairs and b) stop multi-tasking so much.  If I need to turn the light off, I will stop and do that, then I will go down the stairs.  Barefoot or in sneakers.  Et cetera.

I`ve always been a bit of a multi-tasker – and motherhood certainly has reinforced that.  However, I`m going to try and break the habit.  I want to move forward with intention.  Mindfulness.  Focus.  Appreciation.

And yarn ;)

*I can’t be the only person who thinks that time free to nap or knit is fun, right?

Shocking Yet True

I was at a yarn store earlier today.  (This is not the shocking part.)

I’ve taken essentially a year away to help others deal with concerns… but my knitting and design is an important part of who I am, so I’m picking the design part up again.  I missed it.  I really enjoy the puzzle aspect of turning an idea into a chart and written instructions that others can make their own versions of things.

I never really stop(ped) knitting.

I have been working on using yarn from my stash, and just in general being mindful of consumption.  The stop by the yarn store was thought-out and justified  – I wanted to see if there was anything really inspiring, and I was also on the hunt for some super bulky yarn for a project.  I have very little yarn that is heavier than a worsted.  (This is still not the shocking part.)  As well, this is a LYS that’s actually a fair ways away from me, so I don’t stop by it very often, and I took advantage of today’s errand to pop in.  Anyways.

IMG_3761

This right here is where it gets shocking.  I liked two yarns – one a heathered, tonal green/brown/grey, and one that is Noro.

I RESISTED THE NORO, PEOPLE!

I liked the soft heathered neutral better.  I didn’t go for the pink and purple and yellow and orange and fuchsia and violet Noro madness.

Stunning on two counts.  One, I picked a neutral, and two, I RESISTED NORO.

If you have never sworn to quit Noro then I don’t think you can fully appreciate this moment. Of course, I still have (cough) some Noro in my stash… but I didn’t buy more today!  No!  Not today!  And I genuinely liked the neutral better – and if you don’t know my deep and abiding love for colour, and wild colour combos, and varigated yarn, then you may be a little mystified as to why the neutral win is shocking.

Okay, I’m going to quit crowing and get back to work.  I’m hoping to post more often – I know I say that, but I really mean it, too.  My laptop had a tragic life event, and that derailed everything for a while…

How Exciting!

Not one, not two, but three new patterns up today in Dollybird Workshop!

big cam 006 - Copy

Adriatico Cowl – the fabulous Alana Marchetto has created a cowl inspired by the Adriatic Sea.

big cam 080 - Copy - Copy - Copy

Dapple Shawl – my work, a small shawl that is really terrific at taming those wild hand-dyes that we all fall for…

big cam 009 - Copy

Suki Shawl – also mine, unusual in that it’s monochromatic!  Available in two sizes and all about texture and comfort.

All three designs are $6.00US each, and available in my Ravelry store here:
Dollybird Workshop Ravelry Store

Hope you are keeping warm and safe through the winter!
K.

 

The Derp Is Strong With This One

Well, I’ve been at this for over an hour… so if you are wondering about the person with the derp, it’s me.  I’m attempting to blog via my ipad. All three kids are at school and the only sound in the house other than the ticking clock and the ringing in my ears is one of the cats, deciding that he is a FIERCE and WILD CREATURE.

And the occasional person at the door, buying something from one of my kjiji ads.  It’s been a busy summer – and there was a sort of spontaneous project where we moved Z down into the basement bedroom, so A & E each have their own rooms too.

This process was complicated by the fact that the basement bedroom was not only the spare bedroom, it was where I stored everything.  Almost everything.  Many many things.  And I decided to put in new laminate flooring, as that room was the only one left that had carpet from the original owners (who had dogs).  The flooring went well, as did the big swap; but one room of my house is utterly crammed full of random things I need to sort through and then rehome.

That’s going to take a little while.  The glorious thing is that the littles now have all-day school – so I have all day, every (school) day, to make a mess and then deal with it.  Instead of making a mess, checking on the littles, working on the mess, feeding the littles, coming back to the mess to find out that the littles decided to help… etc.

I was hoping to post some photos in this post – I derped a crochet project pretty badly, but then I sort of ninja-ed my way out of it.  I’ve also made pie and invented the Saltimboca Roast – also known as the Saltimroasta.  Sadly, the updated wordpress app won’t let me load pictures*, so that will have to wait for another day.

I’m also waiting for it to warm up enough that I can go rearrange the garage without needing mittens.

Ooo, mittens.  I have a terrific idea for some mittens…. On that happy note, I’m going to press ‘publish’ and see what happens.  Hopefully photos next time!

*Seriously.  I have a smart phone and an ipad and a laptop; why is it still only possible for me to upload photos by emailing them from my phone to my laptop?  There’s a cloud!  There should be an easier way!**

**Every single attempt to find an easier way has taken at least 47 minutes and been varying levels of unsuccessful. 

Things That Make Not-Okay Things Sort of Vaguely Okay

Do you get that?  You know how sometimes there are things in your world that aren’t okay, but sometimes there are other things that make the original not-okay thing a little teeny bit okay?  I was reflecting on those things the other day.

Item the First:  Winter

I mean okay, I live in Calgary, where there is winter.  I accept that there is winter (but I don’t like it much, most of the time).  Some of the things that make winter slightly more okay are hand knit mittens, hot chocolate, twinkle lights, and hoar frost*.

E___ made me smile yesterday morning as she was muddling through the piles of coats.  “Is it minus-ice-cube outside?”, she asked.  Yes, it was minus-ice-cube, and she did indeed need to wear her winter coat.

Item the Second: Head Colds

There is nothing to like about a head cold.  Except that it is NOT as bad a migraine, and I just got two new bottles of OTC cold medication.  (DayQuil and NyQuil, hurray!!)

Item the Third: Cleaning The House

I’m not a huge fan of cleaning and anyone who knows me can tell that a) I have a clutter tendency and b) I also have object blindness when it comes to knitting.  I really, really have to concentrate to recognize both clutter and knitting projects.  I think it’s perfectly normal to have a sweater project on the piano, socks to knit by the leather chair, socks to darn on the other side of the leather chair, and a lace project in a bag on the coffee table.  Isn’t that how everyone’s living room looks?

I try and defuse my irritation with housecleaning by reframing it as “creating a warm and loving home for my family”.  I also think: hey, I have a house that I can afford to live in and heat.  Also, I pick my battles.  The bathrooms are clean but the mantle is dusty.  I do dishes once a day – after supper.  If people** don’t like it, then they can dust or do dishes themselves.

Item the Fourth: THE FIGHT TO GET TO SCHOOL

If I had a dollar for every morning this school year that has taken place with neither of the littles saying “I don’t want to go to school” I’d be able to buy you and I each a Starbucks coffee.  I swear.  They use the same line, I use the same line.  I have never, not ever!, said “Yeah, you present a good case.  You can stay home and watch Netflix.  Why not?”  I’ve never said “Keep trying, someday I’ll say ‘yeah school is not worth it’.”

Some conflict is to be expected when two small not-morning people are confronted by another not-morning person in the morning.  Despite that, I’m still glad because I live in a place where my (girl) children can be safely educated.  They can learn and become anything.

Item the Fifth: Pine Needles In My Socks

Now, pine needles in my socks are irritating.  But they fell off of our Xmas tree, so I feel sort of okay about them.

And what a lovely segue for me to sign off and go and vacuum the pine needles up.  Our tree is doing quite well, but he is (as always) shedding needles.

Hope that you are snug and warm with people you love as we all approach the darkest day of the year.

-K.

 **The man is the only person who has ever done dishes or dusted or started vacuuming.  When he does, I make a specific parenting choice and continue doing whatever I’m doing so that the girls see that men clean too, it’s not just the mom’s job.  (And if a man is cleaning, there is no need for the woman of the house to begin racing around to try and out-clean him.)

And Now For An Educational Experiment…

I like blocking things.  I need to be in the right frame of mind, of course, and not rushed at all, but it’s very pleasing to see the transformation.

On a whim, I used an app for making stop motion animation movies to record Mrs Whatsit’s blocking process, and with luck, it will work for you to watch…

movie

It’s only a couple minutes long, and there’s a surprise whiskered guest star, too.  Drop me a note if you can’t download it; I tried to set up a youtube account but I am apparently meant to remain tubeless.