Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project 333: The List 1st Quarter '11

I have decided that I am going to really do Project 333. Yesterday, with the help of my very savvy daughters, I put together my wardrobe for the next 3 months. It was actually very freeing to box up everything else in my closet. And guess what I found?



And Mr. KCW wanted to buy more hangers this weekend. I did end up going to the store and purchasing a sweater hanger thingy so I can fold my sweaters and have them in my closet rather than in the drawers. That way everything I wear outside of underwear and socks is right there in plain sight. I don't have to second guess what I is available. I thought that was a brilliant idea. I also bought a shoe rack for the bottom of my closet. I packed away my more summery shoes, although I don't think that my hemp rope espadrilles are actually going to make it to the summer. I may have to replace those next spring. But the only things visible are my Project 333 clothes. It makes for a very bare closet, but that's ok because I have plans to eventually use that space to put a small dresser for my socks, underclothes and small knitwear items.

Here is the list:

1. Jeans
2. Black striped pants
3. Brown pants
4. Black skirt
5. Pink cami
6. Lime cami
7. purple cami
8. gray cami
9. Turquoise 3/4 sleeved shirt
10. Gray long sleeved shirt
11. White and silver long sleeved shirt
12. White v-neck long 3/4 sleeved shirt
13. black v-neck 3/4 sleeved shirt
14. Bright Teal long sleeved shirt
15. Pink cabled sweater
16. Teal v-neck sweater
17. Black cabled sweater
18. Purple buttoned sweater
19. Black jacket (which may get a replacement this year)
20. Art shirt
21. Cranberry corduroy button up shirt
22. Ishbel shawlette
23. Annis shawlette
24. Maja shawl
25. Gaia shawl
26. Seaweed scarf
27. Pink pashmina
28. Salwar Kameez set (it's a three piece suit, but it all goes together and isn't interchangeable so I counted it as one thing)
29. Green Crocs (also may get replaced)
30. Brown Boots
31. Gray Birkis
32. Pink Converses
33. Black Shoes (which I may trade out for my heels before I ever wear them)

This is what they look like hung up ever so neatly:

Things you may notice are missing from my list:
1. A jacket - because I only have one and only wear it when it is raining and only while outside and I have a wool sweater that I wear if it gets too cool for the layers, but I'm more fond of layers because I tend to get warm (thanks, perimenopause).
2. Hats, gloves, winter scarves - it just doesn't get that cold here. I have 2 pair of fingerless gloves. One pair sits in my office and the other pair is in my knitting bag. You may see me in a hat here or there, but I didn't count any hats.
3. That pink and orange shawl I'm wearing - This is my office shawl. It hangs on the back of my chair and I throw it around my shoulders when I get cold. I don't ever wear it out (at least in the winter) and it sometimes ends up in my lap rather than my shoulders as a lapghan.
4. Jewelry - as I said in a previous post, I just don't change my jewelry. I have the same pieces that I wear all the time. I consider them a second skin. If I were to change them someone might think I had done some radical plastic surgery or something.
5. Hand knit sweaters - confession: I've never made an adult-sized winter sweater. I have knit two summer sweaters, but never a winter one. I'm thinking of remedying that this year.

So off we go!

Ten on Tuesday: Intentions

I like the word intentions rather than resolutions. Resolutions at the New Year have become very much like the Lenten disciplines. "Oh, it is the new year I must give up something or do something because this is when I am supposed to make myself a better person." Intentions are just that. Things that you want to accomplish. There are quite a few things that I intend to accomplish this year. So here is my list:

1. Eat better. I'm not so interested in dieting. I just want to eat better.
2. Make Project 333 work well for me and my closet.
3. Finish revising some of these books before I start writing new ones (OK, quit laughing)
4. Knit from my stash rather than buying new yarn.
5. Take classes at the Small Business Development Center to learn how to
6. Open a yarn shop
7. Go to Stitches South
8. Write at least one query letter a week.
9. Continue working through The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
10. Remember to blog more regularly.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll talk about how I intend to accomplish some of these intentions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Last Minute Gifts

My children decided three weeks out that they wanted to "do Christmas" this year. Being non-religious, we haven't celebrated Christmas is many years. We usually go to a movie and then out for Chinese food. So this year the kids said, "Hey, we want to do Christmas with a tree and a gift from each person and lights. Yeah, we want lights and cookies." So we have lights and a tree and I've been working on gifts. In the future I would truly appreciate a bit more warning the the kids want to "do Christmas" so that I have time to properly knit for everyone.

Having this list has helped and since I am that minimalist at heart (and needing a few suggestions that won't break the bank, be meaningful and useful) here is my list:

1. e-reader books. Don't know how to do that? Then get your favorite book lover a gift card. It's like buying them the book they've been wanting all year. Look on their B&N or Amazon wish lists for ideas.

2. Knit them cup cosies so they don't have to keep using the paper ones at the coffee shop. In fact make them one that will go over their favorite mug at home. There is something fantastic about cuddling a wool enshrouded ceramic mug in the winter.

3. Knit yoga or house socks out of worsted weight yarn on size US7 needles. They are quick and easy and if you do yoga socks, no heels (although that is the favorite part of a sock for me) or toes and you can be fairly generic with the size.

4. Make felt dolls or stuffies (monsters are very popular this year) or sock puppets from left over fabric, felt and dryer widows.

5. Create an indoor herb garden. You don't have to pay a lot of money for the fancy hydroponic specially lit plastic kits. You can make an indoor herb garden with a narrow windowsill planter and some already sprouted herbs from the garden center of your local home improvement stores. If plants aren't available you can make your own hydroponic garden using a reclaimed bowl from the thrift store, some Styrofoam sheeting (that will float on the top of the water), some garden seeds, a reclaimed lamp and a full spectrum light bulb. There are instructions on the Internet for making your own hydroponic indoor gardens.

6. Have a crafter in your life? Buy them the supplies of their craft. Know a quilter? Get some fat quarters (if you don't know what those are just ask at your local fabric store or hobby store that sells fabric). Scrapbooker? How about a die cut machine? (Psst, the Making Memories Slice is on sale for $49 at JoAnn this week. Just saying). Knitter? Yarn. Cook? Interesting ingredients (or for that matter any ingredients. I would not turn down a five pound bag of flour!) Consumables are always appreciated by those of us who create

7. Back to that e-reader thing, make a nook cosy or a Kindle cosy. They can be knit or felt or quilted. We e-reader users love to look like we have different books even when we are holding the same device. Think of it as clothing for our nooks (does that mean if I do the 333 project that I need to get 33 covers for my nook?)

8. A collection of family recipes. Two of my dearest possessions are my dad's pancake recipe and my grandmother's honey whole wheat bread recipe. They are on my refrigerator waiting for the next time I bake. I love them and they are precious because they are familiar. What family recipes are important to your children or relatives? Write them up on some tidy recipe cards or type them up and print them or download them to a CD-ROM.

9. Nice pens and journals. But only if they will be used. I love my journals and am always carrying them with me. I also have a particular pen that I love that aren't easily found so when I do find them I buy several packs of them at a time. And journals don't have to be expensive or large. I like little ones that fit in my purse or knitting bag. They are perfect for jotting notes, making lists, plotting a story, or quickly dashing off a note to a friend to leave on her windshield.

10. Your time. It may sound cheesy, but your time is one of the most valuable things you can offer. Babysitting, laundry folding, knitting or sewing or cooking lessons. Errand running, dog walking, cat box scooping. I love gifting people my time and appreciate when people value their time as a worthy gift as well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Ravelry Download

I took a deep breath and posted a pattern I made up on Ravelry. They are some simple yoga socks that I made for a friend. I call them the Dancing Stone Yoga Socks and they are free! I love them. I may even make myself a pair for them (in my vast amount of free time!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PoMoGoLightly prompts me to Project 333

I have been considering Project 333 over at the Be More With Less blog. I'm a minimalist at heart. Truly I am. I followed Beverly on her blog and Twitter the past few months as she worked through the project. The basic principle of the project is to select 33 pieces of clothing (not including underwear or pajamas) and only wear those three pieces for three months. I loved watching her transform her wardrobe into very unique different outfits using these 33 pieces. She took pictures each day and her outfit along with a quick listing of what she wore. It was cool. And she also has ceased making me run over to the Fluevog website twenty times a week to see what cool shoes she's been drooling over.

Here are the problems I'm having with the Project 333:

1. My wardrobe sucks! Seriously sucks. I've been trying to buy more intentionally rather than "Oh, this is on sale and it fits so let's buy it." The problem with this is that when I do purchase intentionally it is very difficult to find exactly what I want and I get frustrated and buy three things that I don't like. This happened last year when I wanted cute lacy camis to wear under things like sweaters or as another layer under thinner shirts. I wanted this cute layering look that wasn't quite in style yet. So I ended up buying two camis that only sort of fit and weren't all that cute. Fortunately style has caught up with me and I now own a bright pink, a lime green, a grey, and a purple cami. This year's dilemma seems to be pants. I have a pair of jeans and a pair of dressier black and gray striped pants that are comfy. And one black skirt. I need at least one more nicer pair of pants, but haven't found the exact thing I'm looking for. Anyone seen some nice soft corduroy pants with just a little bit of pleating at the waist and pockets preferably in charcoal or rust in a size 20 petite?

2. My children already complain that I wear the same things over and over again. I think this is less about minimalism and more about being in a rut. It's just too easy to pull on a pair of jeans and a knit shirt and call it good with my art shirt and a pair of Crocs or Birkis. I want to look cute or artistic and come across looking dumpy and sloppy. Which means I'm not happy with my wardrobe no matter if it is minimalistic or full.

3. I have a hard time releasing things, even those things that don't fit, I don't like or are tired or out of fashion. It's that "I paid good money for this and I haven't gotten my money's worth so I am going to hold on to it until I do." That would be all well and good except I never will "get my money's worth" because it just hangs in my closet and collects dust on the shoulders.

4. I live in Florida. Today the high is only supposed to reach 42°F. This weekend it is supposed to get up to 70°F. We've been known to have 80°F days in February and by March our days are much warmer than in January. I'm thinking I will have to definitely use the additional rules of having clothes I need to rotate through just to keep up with our wonky weather.

5. A jewelry issue. As I have a fairly boring wardrobe, I also have a fairly boring jewelry collection. I wear the same two rings (both sterling, neither a wedding ring), the same two bracelets (both sterling bands that I've worn for 20 years) and the same two earrings (one sterling and one titanium both in the same ear) all the time. I never take them off. They are a part of me. So do these six pieces count as six items or just another layer of skin? I have maybe three pair of earrings that I rotate through if I actually remember to wear earrings.

6. I knit. And I love my knitwear. I probably have twenty pair of hand knit socks (are those underwear?) and four shawls. And you do not want to know about all the projects worth of yarn that I have in two three bins in my hobby room. I've actually been pretty good about being on a yarn diet since Stitches South in April and have been good about knitting from my stash. In fact the gifts I'm knitting for the kids all came from my stash. I have planned projects, I just don't have enough time to knit what I currently have and am trying not to get sidetracked by new patterns. This is very difficult to do when Interweave Knits keeps putting out such cool stuff and there are all these talented designers on Ravelry.

I am figuring that I have sixteen more days to decide if Project 33 would actually work for me or not. I like the idea. I want to be cute and fashionable. I think I had this same dilemma in the spring when I wanted to look cute and charming like one of my characters. Perhaps it is a seasonal thing. (I'm still looking for blue espadrilles.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Top 10 To Do List

Well, I found that topic to be rather vague. I have several lists (I'm a list maker by habit). I love making lists of things I need to do. However, I find that the order changes depending on the immediacy of the project. I suppose that this is my top ten list of things that need to be done as of ... right ... now.

1. Clean the floor from where my old stove sat (hey, I pulled that sucker out and found: a wooden spoon - been missing for two years; a pair of kitchen shears - missing over one year; a piece of metal - have no idea what it is our where it came from which means I've never cleaned out from under my stove in the six years we have been here; five Legos; twelve packets of English Breakfast tea from England actually - so that's where those went; two quarters; a pile of sludge that looks like it came off a dirty grill.

2. Wait for my new oven to be delivered sometime today. Have I talked about me new oven? The flat top stove with the cobalt blue enclosed burner interior? It's being delivered sometime between noon and four p.m. (sigh)

3. Finish several projects for gifts for family members. I do have a feeling that I am going to be gifting people projects still on the needles.

4. Finish up several charity knitting projects that I have going on.

5. Reverse numbers three and four because I'm thinking that I need to get those finished before the knitted items for family members.

6. Go to the post office to mail off pocket zombies and nuns.

7. Move number six up to the number three spot because those need to get in the mail pronto.

8. Finish editing the manuscript on the book I'm considering releasing through Barnes and Noble's PubIt program.

9. Cook something in my new oven. I'm thinking some bread or a do-over of Thanksgiving with real stuffing and gravy.

10. Outline the new idea I have for a book. It's really cool with nuns and geeks and, um, why yes it was that funny little plot idea from the plot generator, but the more I think about it the more I think it would be completely fun.

Some of my favorite things

Unfortunately in the wonderful Richard Rodgers' song, it fails to mention anything about cookie baking day. I love a cookie baking day. Today is one of those days. I'm making several different varieties for a cookie exchange with my knitting group and since I couldn't decide which cookie I wanted to bake I'm making a sampling from some of my favorites. From very easy (butter, sugar, flavoring (I used orange) and flour) to more intensive time consuming ones that require one to actually decorate and paint the finished cookies. But it's one of my favorite things to do, so I don't look at it as work.

My first recipe called for me to roll the cookies in powdered sugar. This meant I had to get down my sugar rolling bowl. This is a pottery bowl that my mother made probably thirty years ago. I've retained ownership of it and its twin and when cookies need to be rolled this is the bowl that comes down. It doesn't matter if it is powdered sugar for mocha crinkles or cinnamon and sugar for snickerdoodles. It's all the same. This is the perfect rolling bowl. It isn't too deep, it isn't too wide and it isn't too large. It allows for perfect hand movements and is large enough to hold three or four little balls of dough without crowding each other. It is one of those warm and comforting objects that is ingrained in traditions. I am quite sure as my children move out of the house there will inspections made to make sure that this bowl doesn't leave with them. They will fight over who gets it at my death. And if, by some horrid chance, it breaks we will have a service to remember all the wonderful times we had rolling cookies in sugar in this bowl.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Knitting is not for the lazy

Well, not if you want to get anything done. There are fourteen knitting days left until Christmas (in case you didn't know). And I have a total of one project done out of four. Two I have to work on covertly because people keep hanging around or want to "spend time with me" which really puts a cramp on my being able to knit without them knowing what I am making. So all of this is going on and then I find out this week that several friends have had tragedies or bad news in their lives. That equates to charity knitting. Blankets and shawls and demise caps. But you know? I don't really mind. I may have to give a few gifts to family members that are still on the needles, but I think they will understand.

There is something about knitting an item for a friend who has lost a baby or a loved one. As you knit each stitch you think about what they are going through and how their lives are impacted by tragedy and you hope that each time that they wrap themselves in this thing you have made that they will feel loved and supported. For a friend whose grandbaby died our knitting group is making demise caps and blankets for the hospital that has tended to this family. Somehow you hope that the families that have to use these items will feel some comfort knowing that someone took the time to create a hat for their baby.

So in all this I am busy plugging away. I'm editing, so there isn't a whole lot of actual writing going on and because it is December and it is actually cold outside I have been baking cookies. The house smells all warm and good and it is easy to switch batches in the oven between rows of knitting and lines of editing. But there just doesn't seem time to do much of anything else. Maybe January will be easier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dental pain sucks

Just in case no one knew this little fact I wanted to be very clear that there is no pain in the world as horrible as dental pain. I would go through childbirth again to avoid dental pain even though you end up with a baby at the end that has to be cared for and fed and diapered and taught not to stick pencils up its nose. Quite a few years ago I had some dental pain that ended up in three root canals with crowns. The teeth that held the crowns were not stable and all three ended up breaking out. Now I am faced with the trauma of having to go in and have those three teeth extracted and having bridges built. Every time I go into the dentist they lie and tell me that the pain will go away soon and that it is "almost over." Last week when I had the temporary bridge created I was told that this appointment would be easy. To which I replied, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does." I really hate dentists.

Don't get me wrong, I think I would have a great time at TGIFridays with my dentist or I could see myself having a dandy time knitting with her (if she did knit) or just going shopping for shoes, but I really don't like her as a dentist. I don't like her rooting around in my mouth and sticking me with needles (yet another phobia of mine thanks to a sucky childhood filled with doctors, needles and dentists). I even like the receptionist with whom I know I would have a good time with because she went to DragonCon this year and likes Neil Gaiman. I even like the dental assistant who has a very pleasant voice and pretty eyes. She's gentle and kind, but I don't want any of them poking around in my mouth.

The worst part of all of this is that I am in pain! And when I am in pain I don't want to knit, I don't want to write and I certainly don't want to cook because eating hurts too. I'm tired of "eating" pudding, soup, and things one sucks out of a straw. I have story ideas that float through my head, but just sitting down to formulate them hurts and so I make little notes that make no sense the next day. What? I had a story idea about an evil widowed stepmother who is marrying a hotel concierge and the quiet unnoticed stepdaughter falls in love with the new concierge that the EWS refers to as Charles Two? I'm not sure where I was going with that. And anything that requires more than stockinette stitch is just a bit too mind-taxing at the moment.

Can someone zip me to the future, have all my teeth fixed while I'm in some sort of weird unconsciousness and I wake up with a full set of functioning teeth that aren't killing me and no gum pain either? My family would appreciate it greatly.

10 on Tuesday: Holiday Movies

I find it rather funny that most of the 10 on Tuesday topics are difficult for me to do. I'm a list maker and love lists. It's how I cope with each day. I make a list:

1. Breakfast and tea
2. Shower and tea
3. Write 2,000 words and tea
4. Go teach a class (don't forget tea - students will appreciate you for it)
5. Do grocery shopping (stop at Starbucks for a cup of Joy tea)
6. Do dishes (do not drink tea or you will end up washing your cup and will lose said tea)
7. Make dinner and tea
8. Knit (um, yeah, there's tea here too)
9. Crawl into bed with a book and a cup of Chamomile tea
10. Get back out of bed and brush teeth and resist the urge to go make another cup of tea

I get these lists each Monday on making a list of 10 things for Tuesday. It shouldn't be hard, but for the life of me I can never make a real list.

So this week's list is 10 favorite holiday movies. UGH! There aren't that many that I truly enjoy, so rather than making a list of my 10 favorite holiday movies, I will make a list of 10 movies and at least one of them will actually be one that I enjoy.

10. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Yes; the classic puppet-mation. This is a horrid story of a reindeer couple who are so embarrassed by their son's difference that they hide the fact that he is unique. He is taunted and teased by the other reindeer children. He is cast off as a misfit by the Jolly Old Elf. He is completely ignored and considered useless until they realize that they are doomed and his odd glowing nose is the only hope for Christmas because Christmas will be just ruined if the children don't get their boxes and stockings full of useless crap made in China not by happy singing elves in the North Pole. This would not be one of my favorite holiday movies.

9. Elf. This Will Ferrell telling is actually pretty fun and while I enjoy watching it once a year, I don't need to see it for 25 days 3 times in a row each day. It's a cute movie, but it isn't all that.

8. A Christmas Story. This is the one that involves a BB gun, a leg lamp and a group of Chinese restaurant employees singing Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra. I can't begin to tell you what all is wrong with this movie. I have friends who think it is the most wonderful movie ever and I just don't get it. Although, I will admit that every year on Christmas we go out to watch a movie and then stop at our favorite Chinese restaurant for dim sum. I'm not sure if Chinese restaurants have always been open on Christmas or if they decided that A Christmas Story was a great promotional tool and started opening on Christmas because they knew people would watch this movie and want lo mein on the 25th of December.

7. The Santa Clause. This is funny and cute and entertaining. I love the premise of Santa being around for so long because of a "clause." I'll watch it if there is nothing else on. The sequel wasn't too bad either, but the third one was a hack and very lame.

6. The Holiday. I think I love this movie because I love the cottage that Kate Winslet owns and have this secret fantasy of living in such a cottage. It is also a good story and waking up with Jude Law beside me would not be bad either.

5. Home Alone. The original and only the first one. It was cute and charming, although how someone could not notice that they had left a child is beyond me. The sequel and the third and the fourth and the remake, well, no thanks. And maybe that was what happened with Makaulay Culkin. Perhaps if he hadn't been forced to be the cute, witty and adorable little kid for so long he wouldn't have turned out into the drug abusing surly man he is today.

4. Miracle of 34th Street. It's a classic. What can I say?

3. It's a Wonderful Life. Ditto. It's good movie making with a good story and a happy ending and ring-a-ding-ding an angel gets its wings.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It has to be the animated one that has the actual reading of Dr. Seuss's book and not the Jim Carrey version that just sucked all the childhood memories I had away and turned them into great gobs of gelatinous goo.

1. Love Actually. Of course there had to be an Alan Rickman movie on the list and this ranks as number one, not because it has Alan Rickman (he's actually not his most lovable in this movie) but because it just makes me so gosh darn happy. I love what Hugh Grant says at the beginning that people's last thoughts are not of hate, but of love and that love is all around you. I love stories told in vignettes and then finding out that all these little stories are inter-related in the end. Love is all around us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Knitting with words

Because I am a knitter and a writer, I find that words and yarn tend to blend themselves well. This probably won't make sense to anyone who isn't a knitter. I find that when I write certain words lend themselves better because of the way that they sound or feel in the mouth. It is much like choosing a yarn to go with a pattern or a pattern to go with a specific yarn. It might be the most scrumptious Merino and silk, but it may make horrible cables or it might be the most fabulous lace pattern but the mottled yarn causes the lace to be lost amongst all the color changes.

In writing my NaNo for the year I wrote about knitters. This yarn and word mixture was even more pronounced for me. Now not only did I have to find the right word for the moment, but also the right knitting words. Words such as needles, cable, stitch, Malabrigo, wool, cotton all came into play. If someone is angry, the word cashmere is all wrong. She doesn't pick up a ball of cashmere and throw it against the wall. She picks up a ball of linen or a hank of black scratchy acrylic. Cashmere comes into play when he thinks about her or perhaps she remembers that disastrous first date while grasping a pair of fourteen inch long size US 4 Stiletto needles. That combination of words and what they represent varies from page to page and it is all important. I loved seeing that evolve in this book. The fibers that reflected the moment. The knitting actions that represented a feeling. Someone who is angry doesn't flit the stitches from needle to needle, but rather she picks at them or perhaps she is extremely angry and she stabs at her work.

In the end a sweater is born and a book awakens. It was a fun process. And now I have many ends to weave in, seams to sew, and blocking to shape it correctly. It's very sweater-like this book writing.

(Side note to all the non-knitters: you may find this true of your own interests outside of writing. I can't really give you any non knitting or cooking ideas, but you probably see it, if not consider it next time you sit down to write, especially if you involve those things that you love.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I survived (and won)

Once again I managed to pull of the NaNoWriMo challenge and finished in at 63,785 words and actually managed to reach The End. It was a fun and wild journey with several days lost due to dental appointments and Harry Potter. My Big Goal to actually blog my way through NaNo this year failed on day three. That's ok. I figured one of a few things.

1. Those who were truly interested in my NaNoWroMo word count could always go check out my profile on NaNoWriMo or follow my progress on Twitter.

2. Those who weren't interested in my NaNoWriMo progress were probably relieved to not have to hear about my month long ramblings about how my writing was going.

3. Those who were irritated because I wasn't posting blog entries for the month of November could go find someone else to placate their need to read and I probably wouldn't know they weren't here anyway. And I'm OK with that because this is my blog and while I share my thoughts with other people, I'm not out to please anyone.

4. Those who didn't notice I wasn't posting well, you were probably writing right along with me and trying not to "waste" words on blogs but rather your own novels.

5. The knitters and the cooks had more time to do their thing.

But NaNo is over so I can get back to my regular blog entries and start editing my NaNo novel (after the first of the year). I've decided that I really need to work on revisions of my last novels and give my brain a break from Harriet and Carl and the lovely yarn shop I created.

Tune in tomorrow when I hope to talk about knitting with words.