Sunday, March 30, 2014

He Ran Over A Slip Resistant Ninja

This is one of the images Google gave me for slip resistant Ninjas.

Okay, I know that you are wondering what that title means and I really wish that I could help you with that. I was using Youtube to watch a knitting technique and I decided to try the button that places captions on the screen and he ran over a slip resistant Ninja was the explanation for the stitch being performed.

One, this made me definitely want to make sure if I ever put anything up on Youtube that my captions matched my words and made me think about how things can be said but we hear them differently.

If a friend says, "You look great in that skirt," one will reply based on their personal assessment of the situation. If they handle complements well, it might be something like this, "Thanks, I just love this color on me."  If they handle complements badly, "Really, I think it is way too tight."  If they already had decided how they felt about it, "I knew this skirt would look horrible on me, you don't have to lie to me."

One of the spiritual seeds I planted this year was motivation.  True motivation is an amazing thing.  It can get you up in the morning with a smile and have you looking forward to working on goals.  It can get help you move forward on things done that you've been stuck on.  It can help you walk those last 100 steps to achieve your step count.  It can stop you from eating more then a portion of food.  The ability to go forward is a powerful thing.

But how does welcoming in the spirit of motivation....motivate me if the voice I hear is for instance, full of Ninjas?  Hearing our true inner voice without coating it in doubt, worry, fear or uncertainty is truly something one must learn to do.  Hearing an authentic voice over the din of all the negative noise that we keep harbored within; is an art within itself.

An authentic voice is a loving voice.  It doesn't bribe or cajole.  It won't degrade or debase.  It won't list your short comings or make you feel less in any way.  It is the voice under all that negative noise; the quiet whisper, the small cheering section and the gentle hand that holds yours when you need help going forward. It will never judge you, even if you fail.  It will always believe in you even when you have forgotten how to believe in yourself.

I have been trying to shut out all the noise within me and listen to my authentic voice.  It is a hard process but each time I am successful that spirit of motivation gets stronger.  It starts to become contagious in a way and spills into a new area of my life.  Slowly, very slowly, order is being restored to my being and I feel almost whole again.  There is a balance being achieved each day between the things I have to do, with the things I need to do and the things I want to do.

But it is a slow process like this blanket.  Some days I need to be motivated to work on this blanket and other days I'm excited to watch the colors change.  The two colorways are now being merged in this square and I'm in love with the new parings.

This blanket has helped me to see how to break down bigger goals into smaller ones that have pieces that can be accomplished each day.  The goals don't have to be huge either.  But just the continuity of working a little each day will allow a project to keep its momentum and that way I am motivated to work on it.

Another thing I do to keep motivated is to go over my three biggest goals each night and I imagine them completed or a step in there progress completed.  I see myself so happy that I was able to achieve this and I acknowledge that the journey is as important as the goal itself.

A simple scarf begins with one stitch.  Each project has a journey.  Some are long and may provide obstacles along the way.  Working over these hurdles grant us knowledge; they make us stronger.  And forgive the cliche, but with knowledge comes power.  A power that makes that quiet voice within you stronger.  A power that allows you to see just what you can accomplish when you put your heart into it. When you believe in yourself whole Universes open up to you and the possibilities are endless.

Happy crafting,

BTW:  This post does not in any way make out to slander the good name of the Ninja.  I have the highest respect for Ninjas and their ancient practices.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Inner Connections

Another snow storm this week shut everything down and we had another Monday at home.  I finished my squares for the week in between shoveling.  Yay!  Another block done.  2 to go!

In July of 2011 I put the projects that had yarn together with their patterns in Ziploc bags.  This week I took out one of those patterns; the Tourniquet Scarf.  Two of my dear friends had bought this for me with enough Cascade to do the project.  It is mostly ribbing with a little duplicate stitch running down a few staggered rows.  What a fun little knit and a great neck warmer as well.

My LYS really liked La Donna and my outline for a beginners lace class.  Yay!  I love lace and I can't wait to share the knowledge that I've gleaned over the years.  I know this will be a great class! And as a wonderful sister is finally going to learn to YO!  I am so excited to have her taking the class because I truly am blessed by any time that we spend together.  :)

I didn't want to insert a picture of my sis without her permission, so imagine one of my favorites; she is holding my son on his birthday and he is giving her a hug.  There is love on his face and you can see how important she is to him and conversely there is a big smile on her face that reflects how much she loves him back.

We were watching something with some friends and my son and one of their kids said, "People just don't do that; break into song."  My son turned around and said, "Yes they do.  We do it all the time at our house." And it is true.  Especially me and my sis; we have this deep wonderful connection that is such a blessing to me.

My Mother and her sister didn't really ever get along and that may be an understatement.   My BIL and my DH don't have a thing in common and never do anything together.  I didn't want my Sis and I to be like that...ever.  I think losing our parents has only brought us closer as facing tragedy hand-in-hand can only do. But I can't really remember a time that I didn't love my sister with all my heart; even though I know the High School years when I found boys was a little rough.  But even then, we created a newspaper together about stuff going on.  I still have some of them.  Later on I would go all the way to get her from school so she could spend time with us on the weekends.

I spent my life admiring her for how brilliant she is and I have always been awed by her creativity. Her attention to detail and ability to work on tiny little things always puts me in a state of awe.  She has a big heart and is fiercely loyal to her friends and family.  She has a soft and gooey center for my son and she and he have a special beautiful  friendship.  When she can't make it for our Sunday visit or monthly sleep over; she is missed by all of us...I think even the cats wonder where she is.

So when I look at what I've lost, it only accentuates the blessings I have.  But then I can see my Mother in my Sister.  Her creativity is a reflection of not only my Mom but all the women on that side of the family.  I can't tell you the relief when I visited my Ohio relatives and found my Aunt in a room surrounded by yarn and exclaimed, "Thank you Goddess, I 'm not the only one!"  Crafting, creating is in our blood and if I look at myself with an unbiased eye, I can see that I too am a reflection of that creative spirit that runs in our family.

I see my Father in my son.  My Dad loved nature and nurtured the creatures in it when ever he could.  If a bird had frozen it's talons on a clothes line he would hold it until it warmed up enough to be free.  He took creatures outside whenever he could.  He taught me the language of birds and they would come to the window to try and catch a glimpse of their new friend.  My Dad had a big heart, you had to know him to see it, but he was someone with a big and generous heart.  While he was more reserved about it, my son is outwardly kind.  People tell me that he resembles my simpatico (Italian for sympathetic) so I guess that means I am a reflection of Dad as well.

These are actual flowers in our yard that decided to bloom between the storms.

With Spring here officially...I'm not sure I believe it...that means it is the anniversary of our parents crossing over to the other side.  By recognizing Mom and Dad in those that I love; I have found them within myself as well, and that is truly a beautiful blessing.  :)

A Springtime blessing is my wedding anniversary.  It will be 18 years this year that I have been blessed and honored to be with such a wonderful man.  I am so thankful for every gesture that he grants me; from the coffee in my cup every morning to retiring into his arms at night.  I truly love him more each day.  (It won't let me insert a heart here because it breaks the html code - so imagine one please)

I'm not sure what happened with all that snow and ice; but somewhere along the line I stopped worrying about how I was seeing the world and turned that gaze within...I started to see the world and the people I love and admire in reflected in myself.  :)

On the health front I got one of those Jawbone Up bracelets.  It tracks my sleep and activity.  It tells me when I have been idle too long and I can track my daily food intake on it.  I love it.  I got one for DH too and my Sis already had one.  This way I can see the reality of what I am eating, how many steps I am getting and my sleep all in one place.  I started out with 3,000 steps and sadly I had to run around the house a bit to get up to that number.

This job is mostly sitting and if it wasn't for the dog forcing me to get up and let him out sometimes I wouldn't move for hours.  That is why I love my little idle nudge.  I can get up and do some filing or something that isn't sitting for a bit.  Little steps create lasting health.  Oh, it was a relief to know that typing and knitting do not add steps.  Maybe if I was a picker, but as an English thrower the movement in my left hand is negligible to the step counter.

Oh, the Ziploc VersaGlass has worked out better then I thought it would.  Some people say theirs leaks; mine doesn't.  In fact the lid is so tight that I did have a bit of trouble getting it off.  Maybe with a lot of use that lid might become looser and then it might leak; but right now it holds liquids in tight. You can put it without a lid in the oven (400F) or microwave and with a lid in the freezer and fridge. It is dishwasher safe and made out of pretty nice glass IMHO.

It is hard to be healthy; it takes time and constant work.  Something you may think is good for you one week is found to be dangerous in the next.  All one can ever do is the best they can with what they have.

I hope that even if there is snow where you are that the spirit of Spring blesses you with rebirth and renewal.

Happy crafting,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

La Donna

This week was different.  I can't explain it.  Anais Nin said, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom."  I have always loved that quote.

On Saturday I went with my friend to a yarn shop that I had never been to before.  I really wasn't going there with the intent of buying yarn because I have a room of it.  But you know when in Rome...

So I found this yellow yarn.  It is Fibra Natura Sea Song in Sunflower.  I never seek out to buy yellow yarn. Yellow is a wonderful color, it makes me think of honey, warm summer days and sunflowers; but for me, it just isn't one of the colors I usually choose.  I kept coming back to it and the fact that it had kelp in it intrigued me.  I was almost to the door and then I went back and bought the last two balls of this yarn.  I see it is discontinued on all the web sites I frequent so I'm not sure you can get it anymore.  Which is a shame since it is such a nice little yarn.  :(

So when I came home I had to knit the flower motif from my Mom's shawl with it.  I felt like I was on automatic pilot and grabbed the pattern and a set of circs and began designing a little cowl in the flower motif.  I knit for three hours and the yarn got softer as I worked with it, kind of like linen does.

Fast forward to visiting with my Italian friend that night.  When I told her the story of the yellow and the flowers she blinked and then looked at me like something had occurred and I had missed it.  She explained in Italy today, March 8th, it is Woman's Day...La Donna.  The women receive yellow flowers to honor them.

It still gives me chills to tell that story.

I named the little cowl design, La could I not?  It not only honors Women everywhere but also the ones I hold dear to my heart.  And at the heart of all them is my Mom.  My love and respect for her is woven into every stitch.  When I showed her my original design way back when, she said she wanted flowers.  So I added motifs of roses and tulips for her.

As I was knitting I realized that I have let my eye dictate everything for me.  Yes, it is hard to see at times and sometimes it is horribly painful from the eye-strain, but millions of people work through their ailments every day and I have sat back long enough and waited for things to change; and sadly they have not.

Or maybe they have, since I, myself have changed.

I called my LYS and I want to teach a Beginner's Class on Lace.  I had most of it prepared for the two events that didn't happen so most of the work was done already.  My son took pictures yesterday for me and I loaded them onto the already charted and written pattern sections.

I wrote up La Donna and I just have to chart it now.  I even found a new bind-off to try for it.  I'm always trying to match something to the cable cast-on that I love so much and EZ had just the thing. Somehow I missed it when I read about her sewn bind offs.  Here is a great article on it.

It is a little unruly and takes a bit of practice but this is really the closest bind-off I have ever seen to match the cable cast-on.

Ta da!  The Knit Nana Cowl in the DK Gloss is done!  I really like the way it looks.  You lose the drape of the sugar (which has also been discontinued) (sad face) but the stitch definition really shows through in the wool.  I'm going to let this finish blocking and send it to Nana.

Here is my next layer on the squares.  La Donna took me by surprise so I wasn't sure I would get to them again this week.  But I just kept knitting on them all weekend until I had caught up.

Don't worry I'm not taking on more then I can handle.  If I have too much trouble, I stop, simple as that.

On the health front.  I ate under my calories for most of the week.  I did my steps count for the week and will add to it for next week.  I added in more fruit and veggies and enjoyed a marvelous salad of radishes and yellow pepper.  I just love radishes.  I'd like to grow them this year.

I just got my Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) Beta invite.  This is where most bloggers would tell you that you wouldn't see them for a month or so...but I didn't leave during Skyrim or Minecraft so it will be business as usual.  lol  :)

BTW my son finished the blessing part of the temple.  Now you can "kneel" at the altar of the deity you choose and be "blessed" with their special effect.  Such as the Warrior will give you 12 minutes of strength. If we were playing with others this might seem to be a bit OP (my son's favorite word - over powered) but since it is just the four of us; these powers won't be used to hurt each other as they might in a PVP (Player vs Player) environment.

Sadly, I haven't been on Minecraft all week.  I have been using that time to knit or watch Craftsy classes on knitting.  Craftsy has the best classes and you can pause them and replay the last 30 seconds any time you want.  Once you buy a class it is yours and you can watch it over and over.  You can make notes at any time during the class and the notes will be there at that time frame for your reference.  You can talk to the instructors and they will help you out at any point that you need them.  You can talk to other people taking the class and see finished projects that were inspired by others and / or put up your own.  And that is the only the tip of the iceberg; Crafty has so much to offer and not just in knitting either.  There is knitting, crochet, sewing, cooking, jewelry making and so much more.  And no, they are not paying me to say this or am I affiliated with them in any way.  I just really like them; and I can watch my class on any of my devices at any time.  Love.that.  :)

The Ziploc review will have to wait - I haven't forgotten.

Next week is Spring....even if it is not reflected where you are...may it be reborn in your heart,

Happy crafting!

BTW - the flower is one of my stock images.  We have more snow on the way.  I have no buds to photo yet...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Into Each Life A Little Snow Must Fall

More snow this week...this seems like the norm now.  My son has hardly had a week where he has attended all five days this whole winter season.  Our office at work has been closed more then in any other year; and my boss doesn't just close at the drop of the hat either.  (I wish people would stop dropping those hats!)

Side note: that phrase is said to come from the Old West.  When someone dropped a hat there was going to be a fight because a challenge had been issued.

I'm an Aries and I start things.  It is hard to finish anything and I am easily distracted.  I felt like the Universe dropped a hat on me this week.  I have been fighting to stay on track with my projects and inspired to start new ones in so many areas I feel almost scattered.

I started a new pattern and have been just doodling with my knitting needles as I go.  I'm not sure where they are going to take me or if I will even like it.  I put in some life lines just in case.  Usually I share everything with you all from start to finish but this project feels different to me and I just want to hold it close for a while before sharing it.

I haven't really felt the creation urge in my knitting for almost six months and it was starting to get to me.  This idea took me by surprise and it isn't something I would normally do.  I am totally on autopilot here and yet it feels so right to be making something new again.

I balance my emotions by pouring them into my creations.  This is what has kept me sane over the years and allowed me to function on a day-to-day basis; it is also why I love Minecraft so much. The problem is once again I am an Aries and I can't seem to stay focused and there are always new things to create.  My spirit tree needs to be finished and then I will create it again on our family server.

My family and I play together all the time.  We help each other achieve our goals or sit back and watch as someone creates something truly beautiful.  This endears me to Minecraft even more; sharing it with my family.

I've wanted to build a temple on the family server totally different then my personal spirit temple on my world for a while now.  I had no ideas about it until this weekend; and then it just hit me, bam.  For the last few weeks we had been cleaning up our spawn area and then going to the Nether to get supplies for my son to build his gorgeous castle in the sky; literally when you reach the top you are in the clouds.  I am awed by his skills as a designer.  He had an idea in his head and just created it and we all helped gather supplies as we do for any member of our family.

The temple I am building has taken on a life of it's own now.  My sister and I brainstormed ideas about a Minecraft Pantheon and came up with pretty logical list of deities.  I already had the temple design in my head and sketched it out on graph paper to make sure it worked.  My son spent the other day in the Nether gathering quartz for me.  My sister watched my back as I prepared the land, and let me say, she is an awesome shot.  She hit a hostile mob from an island away.  My son is also programming the buff effects.  I originally thought wouldn't it be great if you prayed in the temple and the deity blessed you with an effect? My son wanted to be in charge of that project and has matched the deities with their effects.  We created it so even the mobs can come and pray if they want.

The construction of this temple is not that difficult.  The gathering of the supplies is quite another matter; anything in the Nether is fraught with danger.  This is the first dome I have ever attempted.  I really like the way it looks.  And I love the fact that we created it together.

BTW since I didn't mention my DH in the temple construction, he is busy gathering supplies for my spirit tree on the family server.  Which is one of the reasons that I took a break on my world.  You have to grow the huge trees, cut them down and rinse and repeat until you have taken down enough to work on another layer of leaves and branches.

Oh, and I finished my Skeleton spawner grinder in the Nether.  Remember I started playing at the end of December and I am new to a lot of things so when I figured out the /setblock command to make spawners it was truly a joyous thing.  Now I can make Wither Skeletons.  Um...yay?  After watching a video of a Wither which you put together from 3 Wither Skeleton heads (which are rare drops...hence the grinder) destroy everything down to bedrock...I question my excitement.  But it is always fun to make something new and learn a new skill to boot.

And...remember when I talked about the ice a while back?  Ice allows one to see a situation or moment frozen in time and the onlooker can really view that situation or moment from all sides.  This creative project is one that I keep putting away in a drawer and mean to get back to but since all the things that have happened over the last year starting piling up I have been ignoring it.  This creative urge that has hit me so strong in all the other areas of my life has extended to me and my well being as well.

I'm the first to admit I really let things slide when the depression of last summer set in.  I stopped counting calories and was just happy to find a food I could eat.  I totally undid years of cultivating a healthy life style and just tried to stay afloat.  My excuses have piled up like my WIPS (work in progress) and I am just over my old self.  I honor the fact that I had to get to this point and I'm not judging my past mistakes...I'm just ready to change and the fact that I have all these other things is not going to stop me from reaching my goals.

First I need to forgive myself.  I have felt over the past year that my body has betrayed me but that is not true.  I am what I am and that includes all the negative as well as the positive.  Each stage is a learning process and creates a foundation for growth.  I need to learn to love and accept myself again.

There seems to be a switch in me that once it goes off everything changes for good or bad.  The switch has been stuck in the negative position for a while now and today I've flipped it to the positive.  I'm an Aries, when I decide something it is law.  I've always been that way.  So starting today I will try to make healthier choices and create more movement in my life.

Ironically, I actually love to exercise.  I love the feeling of moving my body and getting stronger or more flexible with each work out.  DH and I bought this wonderful Total Gym machine which uses your body weight to help you get in shape.  It has been hidden away for a while when we had guests you couldn't really find a room it would fit in.  But now with the basement clean and beautiful we can set it up again.  DH and I are in this together.  We both want to be healthier and are going to support each other along this journey.

I know that I can't do it alone.  We've been looking into those bracelets that hook into an app and remind you to do stuff and you can track workouts and movement and different aspects of a healthier lifestyle on them.  I think this would be a tremendous help for both of us.  It would give us some kind of guide line to adhere to.

I actually ate portions this week and paid attention to my calories.  I made sure to drink my water; at least that is one thing I never slacked on!  And as in the past, I've noticed an automatic weight loss and my clothes a bit looser too.  I don't really have that much to lose; maybe 10 the weight isn't really the most important factor here for me.  I just feel...loose...for the loss of a better word.  I want to feel...tight...not jiggly.

I know that with my eye I can't do exercises that make me strain or hold my breath; so there will be a learning curve as I figure out and retrain myself how to do things.  And exercise is only part of it.  I'm really trying to eat healthy in season and that is proving hard since we are still in the grasp of winter.  I've been enjoying some nice winter squash that I baked in the oven with garlic this week.

All these changes take a bit of my time so there will be less time to knit and /or play Minecraft but that is okay.  These activities that I enjoy so much can be my reward for reaching my daily goals.  I'm making lentils with pork shoulder this weekend.  I'm going to slow cook the shoulder and then add in the lentils when it is falling apart.    There should be plenty of leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers, we are getting rid of all of our plastic containers.  We have slowly been changing over to a healthier lifestyle over the years.  We got rid of toxic personal products and cleaning agents and replaced them all.  We buy local and organic fruits and veggies as much as we can.  We order our meat and dairy from an organic farm.  And, now we are going through our cupboards and weeding out the plastic.  I'll let you know next week what we chose and how it is holding up.

There are so many new things brewing it is hard to contain them all.  I feel like seeds that have laid dormant through the winter got a little sun and burst forth everywhere in my life.  Also I finished the cowl for Nana and I need to block it and then I will show you.

But unfortunately, this creative surge of knitting came with a price.  I didn't finish my layer of squares this week. Sorry Sis!

Next week I should have lots of knitting to show you.  Won't that be a nice change?  :)

Happy crafting,

Sunday, March 02, 2014


I don't have a lot to say this week.

My son and I like to do things together and I try to throw some quasi educational stuff in there when I can.

We have started solving encrypted substitution ciphers.  Codes have been used to carry messages for centuries.  Julius Caesar used a cipher where the letters would be shifted over by three.  This type of cipher where the alphabet stays in order is actually called a Caesar cipher in his honor.  This cipher looks like this:



There are many types of ways to do a cipher.  My son and I have been decrypting mixed alphabet ciphers which have no set order to how the letters correspond.  It is a fun activity and doesn't take more then an hour unless you have a really tough one to crack.  Your mind has to work in different ways to catch patterns or try word sounds; it really is very challenging and fun.  

Some things to keep in mind when solving a mixed alphabet cipher:

E, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R, D, L and U are the 12 most common letters in a typical English text.  TH, ER, ON, and AN are the most common pairs of letters and SS, EE, TT, OO, LL and FF are the most common repeats.

If you have a one-letter word you know it is I or a

Two-letter words are most frequently: of, to, in, it, is, be, as, at, so, we, he, by, or, on, do, if, me, my, up, an, go, no, us, am

Three-letter words are most frequently: the, and, for, are, but, not, you, all, any, can, had, her, was, one, our, out, day, get, has, him, his, how, man, new, now, old, see, two, way, who, boy, did, its, let, put, say, she, too, use

Four-letter words are most frequently: that, with, have, this, will, your, from, they, know, want, been, good, much, some, time

If you have a four-letter word that ends in and starts in the same letter it frequently will be that.

Each code takes a different approach but we always look for one or two-letter words to start with.  If you have a one-letter word then you know it will be I or A.  If you have a two-letter word that starts with that same letter then you know it is going to be one of the following: am, an, as, at, in, is, or it.

Explaining a cipher is like trying to describe the taste of chocolate: it will never match up to the real thing due to the complexity.  So here is a cipher for you to try.  There are some elements which should jump out at you leading to the theme.  I always write out the alphabet under the cipher and cross out the letters as I go, it really helps me to see what is left to choose from.  For a bonus after you obtain the key to the cipher below you will be able to decode the title as well.  :)  Have fun and good luck!




And here is my layer of the week.  These colors are so beautiful, I just love them together!

Happy crafting everyone,