Lace Shawls, Finding Happiness, and a Return to Oz

With school fast approaching, my crafting and reading time is shrinking. I also admit to a preference for cross stitch a few days a week that takes away from knitting, but variety is the spice of crafting!

In a few marathon sessions (and a lot of podcasts), I finished Grandma's Flower Garden shawl in the colorway "Pretty Little Zombies" by Lolodidit. Perfect yarn for this pattern! This is the second in a series of patterns by Clothesline designs inspired by the designer's grandparents. (The first is Grandpa's Veggie Garden.)

Summer's the only time I can read 2 books at once. I usually read nonfiction in the morning with my coffee and breakfast, then fiction in the afternoon, and mix it up in the evenings. Morning reading time disappears once school starts. I used to get up early to read, but the last few years, I've traded that time for sleep. I would like to continue my nonfiction reading though.

I'm almost finished with The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige.

I found Rubin's book at a used bookstore in Asbury Park after a wonderful brunch organized around American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales (discussed at length in this podcast). An odd choice to follow 7 - the author lives a comfortable life in NYC with her husband and 2 children, what's not to be happy? - but now that I'm almost finished, I'm really glad I took the chance and bought it. 7 is all about making big changes, Happiness is all about making mindful small changes. As someone not in a position for big change at the moment, the latter book made more sense for me. I even made a bulletin board in my classroom based on one of the ideas in the book! (Photo next blog post.)

Yellow Brick War is the third book in the Dorothy Must Die series, and if you are a Wizard of Oz fan, you will love it! It turns out Dorothy returned to Oz and became a fascist dictator. The Lion, the TinMan, and the Scarecrow are all evil too (beware that Tin Man), and it's up to Amy Gunn, awkward outcast from modern day Kansas and tornado survivor to kill Dorothy.

It's even more awesome than it sounds.

Today, I'm linking up with Nicole and Keep Calm Craft On.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Fasts and Flower Gardens

School is sneaking up on me! I had a minor freak out last week when I realized how many plans I still had to complete before returning to the classroom. Every year, I push things off until summer, and then my summer to do list is 12 months long!

Ok, a lot of items on the list are craft related, but still.

After I calmed down, I took project inventory. My dresser renovation awaited knobs from Home Depot and liner paper, easy peasy. The toddler dress I started for the KnitReadPray Children's KAL was going gangbusters (and I have until September 30th for that one). I finished my cross stitch gift for my daughter's new apartment, just have to get it framed.

I finally started my Grandma's Flower Garden test knit with some incredibly squishy yarn from Lolodidit even though it was supposed to be tested and complete by August 14th.  Good thing I've test knit before for this designer, and she knows my knitting path may wander, but I get there eventually.  The pattern was released on August 19th and through September 12th, use the discount code GRANDMA for approximately $1.50 off the pattern (exchange rates and whatnot).

Here's my progress so far:

And then there's the next test knit I just agreed to, a really cool fall bag ... but I'm getting ahead of myself (breathe, don't freak).

In book news, I finished Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker this morning. I read her book 7 last week and was blown away by it. (You might remember I was less than enthused about her most recent book, For the Love). If you are one of the few, like me, who has yet to discover 7, go get yourself a copy right now, we'll wait.

At the outset, Hatmaker decides to focus on 7 areas and limit herself to 7 things that relate to each subject for 7 months. Her 7? Food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress.  While I know there's absolutely no way I could exist on only 7 foods for a month,  I'm starting to get the whole "work uniform" a la Steve Jobs (although I look awful in turtlenecks). I found the next 2 easy since every summer for the past 3 years I've celebrated Cleaningpalooza. Sadly, each summer, I still have SO MUCH STUFF TO GET RID OF!

And that media chapter? Going an entire month without social media, and limited myself to essential emails and texts for a month is probably the most beneficial fast for me, tough as it is to admit it.

My takeaway from this book? Do your best not to slide back in to your old ways after you've addressed one of these topics. Here's looking at a much smaller cleanup summer 2017!

I also picked up what she calls the "prequel" to 7, Interrupted about how the Hatmaker family left their cozy insulated American Christianity for Missional Christianity. This book came out around the same time as Shane Claiborne's Irressistable Revolution and books like that. Yes, I did the shoe thing and went on mission, but that didn't stick either. My mom tried to make me feel better by telling me my mission is my kids (and there's a whole book about missional motherhood these days), but towards the end of this book, the author writes
Are you a teacher? Your school is a mission field, plain and simple.
Yes, I teach in a public school, but that doesn't negate this statement, and this book isn't a "how to" but more a "why you". This book was put in my way for a reason, and it just might be the book you're looking for too! If you haven't read either of these books, I highly recommend them; I'm glad I read her most recent one first, or I would've been even more disappointed. Hopefully this author has another truly inspirational book in her.

Have you read either of these books? If so, what was your reaction?

Today, I'm linking up with Nicole and Keep Calm Craft On.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

KALs, Cottages, & Special Snowflakes

A few podcast episodes ago, I announced the Children's KAL/CAL that was initially scheduled to run through the end of August. When I started podcasting, I held off creating a Ravelry group because I knew once there was a group, there had to be a KAL... and I am terrible at KALs.  The first KAL was all about prayer shawls using the Elder Tree Shawl pattern.  Seriously, if I wasn't the knitter running that KAL, I would've quit within the first hour! However, I powered through the learning curve with that lace and finished with a beautiful gift for a good friend.

Of course, as soon as the first KAL finished, I was asked about another KAL.

Being a teacher, I have a lot of time in July and August to spend on crafts. I also recently became an aunt to this little darling (the darling girl is mine):

... and have a good teacher friend who recently had her third child, her first girl. So the children's KAL made sense when it was suggested primarily because I knew I was going to knit these little babies something anyway.  But then the test knits happened, and the farmer's markets started, and I got sidetracked with what is now my favorite shawl and a really handy market bag.

I didn't buy the yarn until the end of June. I didn't start the pattern until mid-July. I am a slow knitter who's caught the stitching bug and is obsessed with the Country Cottage Needleworks' August cottage pattern (a gift for my daughter - see above - born in August and moving in to a new apartment later this month).

Now the KAL is scheduled to end September 30th which gives me more time to finish my version of the Laura Pinofore from the book Literary Knits (reviewed in this podcast):

I'm using good ol' Cascade 220 and keeping the dress solid colors but will use stripes or a fair isle pattern on the pocket when I get there.  As I mentioned in my review, others who knit patterns in this book observed that the directions are often vague and misleading. While this is true for this pattern, and it took me a few hours to figure out how to transition from yoke to bodice, I still love how the toddler dress is turning out!

In book news, I'm currently reading For the Love by Jen Hatmaker while I wait for my copy of 7 to arrive. I found this book originally at B&N but got it from my library and am happy I didn't pay for it. It's very uneven at least so far. One chapter railed on "leggings as pants" and other perceived fashion faux pas that never circled back to Scripture. (As an aside, Southern women seem to have a serious problem with leggings as pants. Sisters, as a round, middle-aged woman, leggings, jeggings, and yoga pants are my BFFs.)

On the other hand, the chapter entitled "Surviving School" is a must read for every present day parent, student, and teacher. Her point that today we "intentionally parent" when back in the day our parents "just raised us up" is spot on! True, today's families face challenges our parents couldn't conceive of, but if just one Pinterest parent could admit that "Kaitlyn-Grace needs to do her homework and stop sassing", we'd go a long way towards raising kids that can successfully adult! (Also, STOP with the Kaitlyns and all the variations! If you want your little snowflake to be special, Kaitlyn is not the name to chose.)

Her point that families choose homeschooling because it is "less work" is an eye opener for this public school teacher.

I know school starts at various times during this month leading up to Labor Day - my new "kids" arrive on September 7th. I haven't finished this book, and I am so skipping the "Marriage: Have Fun and Stuff" chapter (been there, done that, never again), but if I could legally share the school chapter here and with every parent this school year, I would.  If you've read this book, did you feel the same way? Or am I looking at this as a parent of 2 adult special snowflakes... who still live at home?

Today, I'm linking up with Nicole and Keep Calm Craft On.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!