Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

A few months ago a friend sent me a links to this TED Talk by Susan Cain and this quiz at Psychology Today.   I took quiz (Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert and Why it Matters) and was shocked to be told that I am an introvert.   Really?  Me, the queen of social?   I think not.    Then, I listened to Susan Cain's talk and thought "maybe".   Then I read her terrific book and thought "maybe" again.

Yes it is true that I thoroughly enjoy time with my friends, but it is also true that I vastly prefer smaller or, even better,  one on one events.   Over the years, I have left several knitting groups because they have gotten too big.   As soon as a group gets big enough to support several conversations at once, I start feeling overwhelmed rather than comforted.    My children will tell you that I get confused and overwhelmed in noisy or crowded situations.   I love a day at Disney, but need absolute quiet when I get home to recover.   What kind of person needs to recover from a fun outing?   Apparently, introverts do.

I really do think that I fall in the ambivert category (possessing characteristics and/or needs common to both introverts & extroverts).   Still, reading this book did change how I see myself.   When I recommended it to my youngest son, I told him that he would see himself in it, and that he would like what he sees.   That is what it did for me.   I feel decidedly less damaged than I used to.    My need to retreat is no longer odd in my eyes but just a normal part of who I am.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Romance for the Soul....

Friday afternoon, I was planning to get some work done at my second office (aka Panera Bread).   To my delight, the last person to use the table I chose left behind a tiny origami crane made from a receipt.  It was the sweetest thing and really brought a smile to my face.    When my favorite spot opened up, I moved all of my stuff but left behind the crane.   I just knew that the next person to claim that table would be just as happy to find that crane as I was.   Imagine my horror when the next person to notice the crane was an employee who snatched it up as she whizzed past and tossed it in the trash.   Wow, in my mind that went differently.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little of This and a Little of That....

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to arrange for a throw to be made for someone who recently suffered a loss.  Lucky for me the second person I asked was up for the task.   All I had to do was come up with the yarn and a pattern.    Now this lovely person (who could very well be reading this post) does not knit but she is a recent convert to crochet.    I wanted to come up with something that would be pretty, textually comforting, and economical.    Requirements and ideas have been marinating in my brain for a couple of weeks with no one idea screaming "I AM THE ONE", until I discovered a new, to me, blog called Annie's Place.  Sharron (Annie is her Gran)  is a UK crocheter with a real eye for color.   She takes the simplest things and makes them look new and lovely.  

Inspired by the back of her Rainbow Traditional Granny Square Cushion Cover and her generously shared Granny Stripe Colour Sequence, but hampered by budget constraints, I went to Michael's, Joann's and AC Moore  (Find out why we do not shop at Hobby Lobby here) to round up 17 colors of Lilly's Sugar and Cream.   My goal was to match, as closely as possible,  the colors that Sharron used for her Granny Stripe Blanket.   I think I did a pretty good job.  

The hook and yarn are nicely nestled in a pretty basket just awaiting delivery.   All my generous crocheting friend has to do is knit two rows with each color while following  Sharron's Granny Stripe color sequence and we should be good to go.   Dear heavens, I hope the mutual friend that taught her to crochet, taught her to make granny squares.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fireplace + Knitting = Love

Inspired by another blogger, I have decided to do a series of "Things That I Love" posts.   It is so easy to get caught up in the things that weight us down and/or make us crazy, but so much nicer to focus on the little things that make our day better and/or easier.

Today I am feeling pretty fond of fireplaces.   I don't think the subject even came up while we were hunting for a house in FL.   We were lucky enough to have them in almost every home we lived in, in NJ, but I guess we took them for granted because fireplace did not make our "must have" list once we moved South.   Of course, now we all (including Jack the dog) miss having one.   It is not so much the practical warmth (we have a space heater for the short "cold" season) but for the other kind of warmth.   The kind that makes you feel snugly, and comforted.

Consequently, I am really appreciative when I go someplace on a cold day like today (44 degrees, brrr!), and find a roaring fireplace.   I am meeting some knitting friends at our local Panera, and as the first one here, I got to pick the table.   Guess which table I picked?   The one next to the fireplace, of course :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wool good....

The last couple of weeks have been very challenging.   Car repairs, family drama (here, which is unusual and in my family of origin, which is not), Hubby's problems at work, health issues and credit card fraud are just the highlights.   I have tried to stay calm and grounded through yoga and meditation but it has been a struggle.

Last night, as the time grew closer to leave for book group, I realized that I was going to have to change my clothes.    The temperature had dropped from the high 90's on Wednesday to 58 degrees last night (and all the way down to 38 while we slept).   The tank top and leggings I was wearing would not do.   I was going to have to either dig out a coat (gasp!) or change my clothes.    Some rooting around in my closet and I was good to go with a long sleeved peasant blouse and jeans.

Since I would be wearing closed shoes, I grabbed a pair of hand-knit wool socks.   As soon as I put them on, I felt calmer than I had in days.    Always willing to run with a good idea, I dove into one of my bins of handknits and pulled out my Landscape Shawl (knit with Koigu).   There I was, with a cold wind blowing, literally and figuratively, but once wrapped in woolly goodness, I felt at peace.

P.S.  The photo above was taken by my talented older son on a not terribly chilly day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You did what?!

Just the other day as I was sitting outside of Starbucks, enjoying our lovely weather,  knitting & sipping a peppermint mocha latte, my phone lit up with an incoming email from PayPal confirming a purchase.    What, I wondered could this be?   I did not remember buying anything via PayPal, but I was not too worried because my youngest son sometimes uses my account for his purchases (always with my prior blessing).   Still it is better to be safe than sorry so I opened the email and just about choked.   It was a confirmation of a $500 payment to a moving company I have never heard of.   "Holy Crap" said I, as I called Hubby.  

He was much less worried than I was.   He said it was probably just a phishing email, that I should not click on any links in it, just go home, check my account balance (which after a $500 purchase would have been    -$495!) and PayPal transactions, and forward the email to PayPal's fraud address.    I did as he suggested.   My checking account balance was low but not negative and the transaction did not show on my PayPal account.   I forwarded the email to and pat myself on the back for not following any of the links.  That should have been the end of it, but it was not.  

PayPal got back to me very quickly, to let me know that this was not a phishing email but a legitimate notification of payment.   WHAT?!    After being transferred here and there, this is what I found out.   Someone used my credit card to make a purchase via PayPal.   They did not do so through my account but as a guest.    Because that credit card is associated with my PayPal account, I was sent a confirmation (thank heavens!).    The fraud rep was wonderful.   She stopped the purchase, fixed it so that, that credit card can never be used with PayPal again, and advised me to call the credit card company to close the card.

While calling the credit card company, Hubby logged in to check the activity on the card.   Sure enough, there was the $500 pending charge, but that was not all.   Apparently someone bought a freaking car with my credit card.   Now here is the thing, that card is still in my wallet.   How does someone buy a car with a credit card that they can not produce and no matching identification?    Again, the fraud rep was lovely, the card is closed, a replacement is on the way, and we are not responsible for any of the fraudulent charges.

Even though we stopped it quickly (thanks to PayPal) and no long term harm was done (To us, someone at that Ford dealership in Pensacola better be in trouble), I am still really upset about the whole thing.  It is all rather creepy.   I have no idea where the number was stolen.  Over the last couple of months the only charges to that card were two Target, two Staples, one to our plumber, Walgreen's and an art class fee.   That means that the theft almost certainly took place locally, at someplace where I shop regularly, and that just makes me want to take a shower.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A pattern in progress...

Simple Comfort Wrap 19Dec12
Recognize this?   I blogged about it here.  It is the as yet unnamed wrap pattern that I am working on for my UU Comfort Craft Group.   I have decided to post the pattern while it is still in progress.

Why, you may ask, am I taking this crazy unprecedented step?   Well, I am feeling pretty cooky confident that the ending will be very straight forward and predictable.  I am already getting requests for the pattern, and I want to be able to send interested parties to Ravelry to download it.

My plan is this, I will put it up "Nameless" and  "as dreamed".    As you can see, the cast-on and lace pattern have worked out very nicely so that is good.   The only outstanding questions are the the final yardage and how the bind off will look (I am hoping to maintain the slightly scalloped look of the cast on).   Once finished knitting, I will make any adds, moves, and changes, change the date on the bottom of the pattern, reload to Ravelry, and send out a revision notice.   You will eventually get a final pattern (with finished photos).   The pattern is, and will remain, free.

There you have it.   If you choose to download and cast on before I have finished, know that you may not be getting the final version (although, you will).   Feel free to let me know if you need clarification or you find any errors.   My contact information is on all of my patterns.

ETA:  This shawl is no longer nameless.   It is now the Simple Comfort Shawl :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Inspire me,,,

Lite Wt. Simple Joys Scarf/Shawl

Today, I started my day with an hour of yoga.   Why did I ever stop doing this?   I feel so much better able to cope with the vicissitudes of life today.   Coincidence?    OMG, I hope not.   Next on my "pull myself together" agenda?   Meditation.   I have tried meditation before with limited success.   Look the term "monkey mind" up and you may just see my picture.    However, I am reading Priscilla Warner's "Learning to Breath" and feeling inspired to give it another go.   If she can do it, certainly I can.

Do you follow Cosmicpluto Knits?   I do.   A few weeks ago she posted about a simple black scarf she knit for herself.    I knew then and there that, this would be my January knit.  I know quite a few crafters who craft mostly for sale, publication, and/or gifts during the rest of the year, but, come January, they make a point of making something for themselves.    I have done this myself in years past and have decided to do so again this year.  I am using my own Simple Joys pattern and  KnitPicks' Comfy Fingering Yarn to make my shawl.  In addition to having a snuggly feel and a reasonable price, the light weight and mostly cotton content of Comfy make it a perfect Florida yarn.     Once finished, I will add what few changes there are to the bottom of my Simple Joys pattern.    Those changes should be minor since the only differences are the weight of the yarn and the seed stitch border.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Never a circus around when you need one....

I am blogging from Panera Bread today, not because our internet stinks (which it does) but because I have run away from home.   I am sure every Mom out there has found themselves in a position similar to mine.   Hubby (normally the soul of kindness) had a wretched day at his new job yesterday and is in a wretched mood today.   Perhaps not the best day to clean out the garage but once it was clear that, that was the plan, I got the boys up to help him.   It seems that T1 would rather play DandD then help.   Yes, I know, who wouldn't, but most of us would grumble a bit and then get the job done.    That is not what happened this morning.   After trying, perhaps too hard, to smooth things over, only to be snapped at by both Hubby and T1, I formed a plan of my own.   I took a quick shower, found something pretty to wear, and ran away from home.

Since, at my age, joining the circus is out of the question.   I did the next best thing.   First stop was our local Eddie Bauer outlet.   My favorite cami's were on clearance with an additional 50% off.   I got one in every flattering color (some shades of green are just not good to me).   The "Deal of the Week" were their wonderful t-shirts, got one long sleeve black and one short sleeve black.   I am in a bit of a black mood.

Then came the drive to my ultimate "I need a day for myself" destination.   The Sew and Quilt Shop in Bunnell, FL.   They sell yarn, nice, pretty, luscious, yarn.   I was planning on picking up enough Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to start an afghan but got distracted by their other wonderful yarns.  All of the curly scarf yarn is on sale two for one.   I quickly grabbed a two skeins of Katia'a  Ondas.  One a  multi-shade red and the other a blue/green variegated (both for me).   I am not normally a fan of frilly yarns or man-made fibers but after making a few of these scarves for gifts, I want one (or two) for myself.   Next, I fell in love with a particularly lovely pink/yellow colorway of Blue Heron Yarn's lace wt Egyptian Mercerized Cotton.   I quick trip to Ravelry and I can see a new Citron-Grand shawl in my future.   At that point I thought I was done but during the requisite post-purchase chatting, a pretty shawlette caught my eye.   Turns out that it is made from a free in-house pattern.   Two  hanks Plymouth Yarn's Kudo and I was good to go.

Lunch and blogging done, I am heading over to a nearby Michaels and TJ Maxx.    No more spending for me today but window shopping can be fun too.

While driving around I am listening to Harriett Lerner's Dance of Connection.   Particularly apt since we all seem to have forgotten how to speak nicely to each other.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Hampstead reveal and what I did with my Christmas vacation...

Hampstead Wreath

Yes, thank you, we have a had a lovely holiday week.   Christmas Eve we sang in our church choir.   Hubby, T2 and I love to sing choral music so this was a real treat for us.   The whole service was dedicated to music.   It was beautiful.    Christmas Day was quiet and easy.   We did not go anywhere and had only my mom over here.   We cooked our ham in the slow cooker which added to the ease of the day and came out very well indeed.    After dinner we snuggled in the living room to watch Christmas movies (Christmas Story & It's a Wonderful Life, among others).   Even the weather was  just right in that is was pretty cold (for FL).   

Hubby and the boys have had the whole week off.  The boys held a Dungeon and Dragons marathon here one day and Hubby and I took off by ourselves on another.   Saturday we met with the rest of my family for a bigger holiday celebration.   Sunday was especially nice in that we did absolutely nothing.   There was no where to go and nothing pressing to do.  We ate left-overs and stayed in our PJs.  Hubby & the boys played video games until their eyes crossed (unusual for Hubby, less so for the boys)  I read a book  from beginning to end, then knit until bedtime.   It was wonderful.

What you see here is my finally finished Hampstead Wreath.   After agonizing over how to embellish it (Flowers? Holly? Pom poms?), I happened upon this wooden plaque thingy at Michaels.   Not only does it match my color scheme but "Peace" is unabashedly my fondest wish for the new year.

P.S. The book of the day, was The Haunting of Maddy Clare, a period ghost story combining elements of Downton Abby with Ghost Busters.   It was a perfect fluffy read for our lazy day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Start as you mean to go on....

If it is true that how you spend your New Years Day sets the tone for the rest of the year, then we are in for a very good one.

We started our day disgustingly early but it was all up hill from there.   It turns out that some folks we know have made a tradition of meeting on Jax Beach to watch the first sunrise of the year.   It was close but, as you can see from Hubby's photos we managed to get up and going in time to welcome the day.

Once done with the ooo-ing and ahh-ing, we all headed off to a local cafe for a delicious breakfast, followed by a very long walk on the beach.

It was pretty darn cold when we met up, and still chilly after breakfast, but between the later hour and the exercise, we all started  heating up once the serious walking got going.   We must have made for quite a picture as we all began peeling layers of clothing and footwear off.   I started out in long sleeves with a coat and scarf.   By the time we arrived back at our car, I was barefoot, in yoga pants and a tank.   I was not the only one, either.   Thank heavens for the Florida habit of dressing in layers.

The boys slept through all of this but have been happy to join us for an afternoon of Dr. Who, knitting/video games, and junk food (my no junk food rule is always suspended for New Years Day and Superbowl Sunday).

So, assuming all goes according to plan, our coming year should include beautiful mornings, good friends,interesting conversation, knitting, family time, Dr. Who, and a nice mix of healthy and junk food.   Sounds like a plan to me. :-)