Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Own Lent

Last weekend I went to a NET Alumni retreat. It was just one day but it was exactly what I needed. My teammate, Kathleen, drove down from Fresno to hang out with me. We stayed at a hotel the night before & after the retreat and talked and talked and talked. Hanging out with her reminded me that I need fellowship. I love my friends and I'm really blessed to have people in my life who really love and care about me. However, only Hana is Christian. The others sort of "tolerate" my faith and at times kind of tease me about it. I always feel like I'm their 'exception'. They really dislike Christians in general but think I'm some sort of rare breed that's ok.

In any case, it also gave me a good swift kick in the pants. I need to get myself back on track. Simply said- Jesus makes me happy. I like praying by myself. I like praise & worship. I like Mass. I may not agree with some of the politics of the Church, but I still really love my faith. So all this week I've been thinking about how to get back into a space where I can commit to things like personal prayer time.

Then I came upon this project on Ravelry. This lady had the brilliant idea of crocheting a premie hat for donation every day of Lent. Since the 40 days doesn't include Sundays, she used that day to finish off the ends (I hate that part!). The whole crochet-for-donation thing has been on my mind a lot lately, too. I'm totally addicted & finding reasons to give people gifts-- but I could be donating as well. A good friend of mine is an ObGyn & said there's ALWAYS a need in the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit for tiny hats & blankets.

So this is it. I'm starting my own Lent starting this Wednesday, which would make my "Easter" July 18th.

My Lenten commitments are:
  • At least 30 minutes Personal Prayer every day
  • Crochet a premie hat every day
  • Go to Mass every Sunday
  • No sweets
The no sweets thing is really because I need to start eating better, but may as well throw it in there. I'm all about DOING things for Lent, rather than NOT doing things, ya know? The whole point is to get closer to Christ- not randomly deny yourself something that has nothing to do with real sacrifice.

So there you go. Hopefully I can finish up some WIPs before then... in particular the Blessed Mother Shawl I'm making for Rosa. That's another post though...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Soldier Revisited

I started knitting that blasted soldier scarf right around Christmas. I keep putting it down because I HATE knitting. That's right... hate it. I'm sure I did this to myself. Stupid thin yarn & tiny little size 8 needles. How was I supposed to know it would be so tedious? This was a horrible first knitting project. With every stitch I just think how much faster I could crochet it.

I don't even know when I last worked on it. In fact, I've stopped carrying it around and actually am not entirely sure where it is at the moment. Probably in my project tote in the car. It's meant to be a Christmas present, so I suppose it's not horrible that I'm not currently working on it, but still. I need to finish.

I'm thinking about it now because the soldier is in town this weekend. Woot! When he makes quick trips I don't generally try to see him because naturally his family and close friends want to spend time with him, too. But it sounds like he thinks he might be able to sneak away sometime this weekend & maybe we'll get to catch dinner or something. It'll be difficult since I'll be working, but I'm basically at-the-ready should he say he's suddenly free.

He'll be on block-leave mid-June for several weeks... then it's off on another deployment. I hate it because I worry about him. He managed to kind of pretend Iraq wasn't that dangerous. He basically totally lied to me about what he did, making it seem very calm & safe. Since being back he's revealed the really ridiculously dangerous crap he does, I guess because I don't have to worry since he's home. Oh, yeah, except he's now headed to Afghanistan, which is MORE dangerous. Awesome. Still, even with all that worry I am kind of excited about the letter-writing. It's fun and totally a lost art. I've purchased cute stationary. There are random things I've collected to send in his monthly packages strewn around my house. I've found recipes that look like they might withstand the trip over there. I'm ready... sort of. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Off Topic: 10 years later

From August 1999 to May 2000 I volunteered with NET Ministries. Alumni of the program are affectionately referred to as "Netters" and the year they volunteered is referred to as the year they were "on the road". Why? Because after training you grab your one suitcase, your sleeping bag & your pillow, get into a 15 passenger van with 9-11 people you just met and head out all over the country. Why? Because 20 years ago Pope John Paul II was all about a "new evangelization"- basically saying people already part of the Church needed to be evangelized. So every year NET gets a bunch of young adults together, trains them, prays with them and then divides them up into teams that run around giving retreats to young people & their families.

The "Dream Team" (Team 6 99'-2000)

I've been thinking about my year on the road a lot lately. I haven't seen most of my teammates in years, but I still feel like I can tell them anything and when something hard comes up they are some of the first people I ask for prayer. Several times a year the girls have a "virtual women's session". On the road, we had scheduled time to meet "as women". Sometimes several hours of our packed schedule would be set aside to pray, talk & play with just the girls. At one point, the ladies of our team made a point to have at least a few moments of "women's session" every single day. It's hard to express how crazy that was if you've never been on NET. Every minute was scheduled for us. We had retreats 6 days a week at least. The 7th day was packed with driving or practice or meeting with bishops. My team ended the year with a 16 day sprint... not a single day without a retreat. But for a while, even if it meant a two minute huddle outside the van where we each said 2 words to describe how we were feeling- the women of Team 6 had women's session every single day.

Looking badass after paintball

NET taught me a lot about healthy relationships. Unless I was in the bathroom, I was with at least one teammate almost every moment of every day. We worked, ate, prayed, played, traveled & slept together every single day for a school year. Is it any wonder there were strict rules for how to resolve conflict? NET taught me to be honest about how I feel, to address things as they come up, to see the other person's point of view, to ask for and accept forgiveness. We were big on actually "saying the words". Say "I'm sorry and I need your forgiveness". Say "You're forgiven. I accept your apology." Say "I appreciate these things about you." Say "This fight hasn't changed the fact that I love you."

Those skills have come in really handy. It helped me repair my relationship with my mom so that when she passed away we were closer than I ever remember us being. It helped me get through a really rough patch with the soldier last year and get our friendship back on track. It helped me move from a child-parent relationship to an adult friendship with my father.

Chicago, Illinois (This photo took FOREVER while we froze by the lake. Totally worth it.)

For all the lack of sleep, annoyances, colds that lasted months because we couldn't slow down to heal, nights spent on a gym floor, weeks of eating pizza every day, small groups that refused to cooperate and missing my friends at home-- NET was an incredible experience that helped me grow as a person & grow closer to Christ in more ways than a other single year before or since. I thank God every single day for that experience & for the people He put on my team.

"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." -Acts 2:44-47

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gettin Cozy

Since I've taken up crocheting again with a vengeance, my friends have taken up joking about it with equal vigor. My best friend and I will be moving in together in a couple months and she has repeatedly expressed a fear that everything in our house will be covered in a cozy. I have thus offered her boyfriend a handmade gun cozy because my best friend hates that he owns a gun. So there! Revenge crocheting for the win!

In other cozy-news, my sister came home from her job at Starbucks the other day and said a customer had a crocheted cup sleeve and I should make them. I realize these are all the rage right now, but I kind of have to ask why? I mean, sure, I could save the earth by not using the throw away sleeves... but how many people are going to carry a cozy around with them??

But then, of course, it was on my mind. And, much like fingerless mittens, the more I thought about them the more I had to make them. I busted out my huge-ass cone o' cotton (which has become my go-to yarn for things I'm trying to figure out) and got to work.

Chain 31 & join in a ring. Single crochet around in a spiral for a few rows. Add an extra stitch every 6 stitches for a couple rows. Few more even rows. A row with a few decreases to make sure it stays tight at the top. Done.

The basic sleeve took maybe 10 distracted minutes. (Hello? Did you SEE Glee last night? Amazeballs!) But, you know, a plain white cotton ring of crochet is pretty dull. I made a couple tiny little flat circles and an oval-shaped mini-cup, sewed 'em on, did a little quick embroidery and tah dah!!!

That's a polar bear coffee cup cozy right there, boi.

It's shown on a venti iced cup, which has quite a bit more girth than a hot cup (counter intuitive, though it may be). This should fit nicely about the middle of a hot cup.

I'm totally making more of these. I only have this white and some pink cotton at the moment, but eventually I'd like to make some other animals and maybe some random designs. These are so quick & easy I may have finally found the project I can sell!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where My WIPs At?

Look over there!! To the right!! I have progress bars!!

They link back to my Ravelry account, so you can check out pics and such. YAY! The two girlie dresses are stuck at 90% because I HATE doing the button, ribbon, etc finishing they require. Soon. Soon I will do it. And then I'll have room for MORE projects. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stream of Consciousness Blanket

I've been sort of micro-blogging on ravelry. I started the very popular Tiramisu Blanket using Caron One Pound because it's cheap. I thought this was a good way to give you a glimpse inside my brain as I change my mind about a project...

4/29/10- I have no business starting a blanket with so many WIPs. I just can’t help it. This thing is supposed to be 32x32 inches but so far the inside section is only 22 inches wide. I tried using a larger hook but it was too open and if I’m going to make an entire blanket in single crochet you better believe it’s gonna be a solid. I have a tendency to make “baby blankets” that are huge, so maybe this is a good thing.

4/30/10- Man this yarn sucks. Couple that with the solid sc pattern and this could make for a really stiff fabric. It’s not totally unusable but it’s not lush and soft like I like things to be. Hopefully it’ll soften up once washed.

5/1/10- It’s coming along faster than I expected considering the sc. I’m still kicking myself for going with the J hook. I’m afraid I’m going to hate it when done. I do kind of like how neatly it folds up as a result of being a little stiff. That’s weird, right? Right. Of course it’s weird.

5/3/10- I put this down for a couple days to finish up the Hot Mama Smock. I’m about half-way through the center section and getting used to the fabric. After reading some other users’ comments on this yarn I’m pretty confident that it’ll soften up after I wash it. I can’t wait to get to the border.

5/10/10- I put it down AGAIN to give my poor thumb a rest. I really need to learn to hold the hook looser. I finished the main body & started on the border. I realized if I did the border as written the blanket would only be 26 inches by 26 inches. Too small! So I kept the dc/ribbon row but now I’m going to add a hdc row, a tulip row, another hdc, another ribbon & then I’m not entirely sure how I’ll finish it off. It will add a couple inches per side and hopefully I’ll like it more. :)

5/12/10- Alrighty... so after the tulip row I did a couple hdc rows and called it a day. I'm forgoing weaving in any ribbon because I think it'd be a bit much. I'm so pleased with it! YAY!

Since it started with the "Tiramisu" pattern but I added pink flowers to it I'm calling it The Italian Birthday Cake blanket. Get it? Cause I "frosted" tiramisu with pink flowers like a classic birthday cake! :)

Here's the finished blanket. I'm pretty pleased.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Crocheting in Public

The other day I took my godmother to a doctor's appointment. Sitting in the waiting room, I pulled out the Tiramisu Blanket I'm working on. If you follow my projects of Ravelry, you know this blanket is causing me some issues. I'm worried the yarn/stitch/hook combination is gonna make it way too stiff. I'm hoping against hope that once washed it softens up a bit.

Anyway, this lady, probably in her mid-60s, comes over and asks what I'm crocheting. She said she was a crocheter until she had to have a surgery of some sort. She started fingering my blanket.

"It's just single crochet?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied, "two single crochets in one stitch, skip one, repeat. Pretty basic body but I'll add a really cute border once I'm done."
"Hmm" she sort of grunted, "It's pretty sturdy, huh?"
"Yeah, well, I've read that this yarn softens up once machine washed."
"Hmm. Still pretty... thick. Well, I guess it might be good for December."

Um. Excuse me? Maybe I'm being overly sensitive because she was calling out my own fears about the project but I thought it was fairly rude for a complete stranger to be so negative! Maybe she was just trying to show that she really does know the craft? Later, an elderly woman asked what I was knitting. Normally I let the whole crochet/knit thing go, because the person asking is just making conversation anyway. But noooo... the first lady says "It's crochet, not knit". The elderly lady apologized & I just told her it was a small baby blanket. She commented that she liked that it was solid & simple but had an interesting texture. THANK YOU LADY! I told her that's exactly what I liked about the pattern.

People are strange creatures. I guess I can't expect every crafting in public interaction to be positive.

Anyway- I've broken my New Year's Resolution finally. I didn't work on anything at all yesterday. I have an excuse though- I'm really focused on finishing up my current crochet & knit projects so I can start trying to figure out Nana's dress. However, this has caused me to have some pain in my thumb from overuse while crocheting! I'm giving the paws a break for a couple days and getting back to it over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Off-Topic- Pretty Things, Memories & Fasting

I fell in love with this little set of tea cups at Starbucks several weeks ago. I restrained myself until my sister bought them because she works there, thus her employee discount brought the $15 price down to $10. $10 for three cups seems far more reasonable.

I loved them so much that I bought a set (at the $15 price) for my friend's mom for her birthday this weekend. $15 seems like a reasonable price for three cups when they are a gift. :)

Here's my disappointment: I, for some reason, assumed all the cups would be shaped like the bottom blue one, just smaller. Thus, I thought I would probably use them for bowls of candy or maybe on my desk for little odds & ends. Nope. This is what they look like once separated:

Hmmm... I'm far less enchanted with them now. It looks like they are all probably the same volume, just different shapes. I still like them, but the handle-less-ness is a minor annoyance now. I'mma burn my fingertips drinking out of these! I'm still kinda excited about that blue one, though. It's the perfect shape for matcha, which I love.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a medium green cup of Yogi Peach Detox this morning.


I originally bought it for my mom, who had kidney failure. I ended up liking the spicy quality of it, though, and continued to buy it after mom passed last year. It's pretty yummy, and I think we can all use some detoxing in our lives at some point.

A fun thing about Yogi tea is that the little tag that hangs from the tea bag always has some little quote. Today's is remarkably appropriate:

In order to be remembered, leave nothing behind but goodness.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the passing of my Uncle Conrad. Like most people I mention here, Con wasn't really my uncle. He's my 2nd maternal cousin's paternal uncle. In any case, Con was freaking awesome. Just a really fun, nice guy who you could never say a bad word about. He absolutely left nothing behind but goodness. He passed pretty suddenly and we all feel a big aching hole now. So, with that, my mom's anniversary coming up and just a lot of stress in general, I'm feeling pretty off my game today. I think I'll have a couple cups of Peach Detox, maybe stick to juices and water the rest of the day. Prayer, fasting and some family time will hopefully turn me back into a normal person.