2

Priorities

I was super excited by this year’s Ravelympics/Knitting Olympics challenge.  The Plain and Simple Pullover has been in my queue for a long time, but I was daunted by the idea of a fingering weight sweater, even one that has a fairly straightforward construction and short sleeves.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to challenge myself.

But life, as it seems, had other plans.  Close friends were stunned by news that cancer has returned, and suddenly their lives revolve around schedules and experimental treatments.

These aren’t the friends we’ve known the longest, and aren’t the family we were born with.  But their story has really struck a chord with me.  Perhaps it’s the wife’s upbeat nature, refusing to become consumed with her husband’s scary prognosis.  Maybe it’s the fact that their children are the same age as our children.  Maybe it’s watching the couple together–how much they love each other and appreciate one another, recognizing the blessings they’ve had together in spite of this terrible news.

Whatever the reason, I’m putting my knitting projects on hold for a greater purpose–hats they’ve requested to take with them to New York.  How can I refuse?

It isn’t my Knitting Olympics project, but I’m not sad to put that to the side for this.  There’s more to life than that simple, self-imposed challenge. There are real challenges out there, those I can’t even begin to comprehend.  Those that no one should have on their plate.  Ones that, though I pray, I can’t get a grip on.

I wish there was more I could do.  But in the meantime, I’ll knit.

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3

The A.C.

Not to be confused with “The OC” or “The Vegas”, my sister, soon-to-be-brother-in-law, husband, and I just spent a weekend in “The A.C.” There’s nothing like a quick jaunt up to Atlantic City. Fill up on White House Subs, get your gamble on in Bally’s and Wild Wild West, and drink it up.

What once started out as a fun weekend has become a yearly tradition, and there’s no end in sight for our foursome and the adventures (and stories) we encounter in Atlantic City.

Eating White House Subs

Eating White House Subs

Gearing up...

Gearing up...

...to head out!

...to head out!

Crashing on the return home!

Crashing on the return home!

See you next year, Atlantic City!

5

Bonjour Paris…Au Revoir Paris!

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Paris with two friends. And by whirlwind, I mean whirlwind. We went from the moment we arrived on Saturday afternoon until the moment we left on Monday morning.

We walked (a lot…my legs still hurt), we ate (a lot…my tummy is still full), we drank (a lot…I don’t want to drink any wine for awhile), we saw (a lot…just you wait), and we conquered (a lot…from a lost wallet to metro rides across a foreign city).

We did.

I could write for hours about everything we did, everything we saw, and everything that we ate and drank. But I may just have to let the pictures and their captions tell the story for now. Breakfast in Paris, lunch in mid-air, and dinner with the girls appears to be a bit much for me, and I’m going to have to hit the sheets sooner, rather than later.

It was a fabulous weekend…I wouldn’t change a thing.

Tour Eiffel by day...

Tour Eiffel by day...

...and by night.

...and by night.

Fiona, Jenny, and I on the bus tour.

Fiona, Jenny, and I on the bus tour.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

The Louvre

The Louvre

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

And the classic shot that will go down in infamy…me, after I retrieved my lost wallet from the Paris police station (with all of its possessions still inside). Thanks, man behind the counter at Jeff de Bruges. If you are ever in the Opera District and looking for fine chocolates, not only are these delicious, but there’s a great a great guy working there who found and turned in my wallet, too.

Me, Wallet in Hand!

Me, Wallet in Hand!

Ahh…memories.  Au revoir, Paris!

6

The End of an Era: Arwen’s Song

Since February 27, 2008, the day I started swatching for my Cardigan for Arwen, so much has happened in the world.

  • Marcus, Samantha, Erica, and I all celebrated birthdays.
  • I spent 5 weeks in America and 2 weeks in Tuscany.
  • I went on a girls’ weekend getaway to Spain.
  • Marcus and I took the train to Edinburgh for a weekend without the girls.
  • I knit three other sweaters.
  • I knit multiple pairs of socks, hats, cowls, and other adorable projects.
  • I edited my novel.
  • I wrote for Associated Content.
  • Kiki and Andrew got engaged.

This is just a brief sampling of the ways that life has gone on, while Arwen languished on the needles.

I’m here today to announce the end of an era.  Arwen is finished.

Insert crowd going wild here.

She is beautiful, if I do say so myself.

The best thing about the completion of Arwen, however, is that I have the potential to bring everything full circle for you, my blog readers.  I can write about Arwen, but it can appeal to the non-knitters in the crowd.  I promise.  Wait, you’ll see.

For the knitters, there are, of course, the specifics.  I cast on on February 27th, and finished Arwen on November 7th.  So, just under 9 months of on again-off again knitting.  She’s knitted in Cascade 220, in the soft pink colorway.  Her construction is unique–Kate Gilbert certainly outdid herself.  Being a new knitter when I started working on her, I didn’t realize just how weird the construction was.  I’m glad I learned it, but if there are mods out there for knitting her with the sleeves in the round and the front pieces and hood separate, I might suggest that you use them.

Now, there are the things that I learned about knitting from Arwen.  There’s the night that I finished the back, proudly announced to my knitting group that it was done, and they promptly informed me that while it was lovely, my stitches were twisted.  That prompted in depth research into my knitting technique, which proved that, in fact, I was knitting backwards, wrapping the yarn around the needle in the opposite manner than most knitters.  So, I taught myself to knit correctly, but decided to continue knitting Arwen in the twisted stitch manner, as I couldn’t bear the thought of starting again.

I learned how to cable without a cable needle, though because Arwen is a 24 stitch cable pattern, I don’t recommend it and rarely used it.

I learned to do the backward loop cast on method, how to seam properly, how to actually recognize my stitches, how to do short rows, how to pick up stitches, and how to bind off properly.

That’s what Arwen taught me about knitting.

But really, Arwen taught me so much more about life.

I learned perseverence from knitting this cardigan.  She was, by all knitting standards, out of my knitting ability.  I shouldn’t have knit her.  In fact, when I started messaging people on Ravelry asking how they liked her and what yarn they used, they told me I shouldn’t make her my first sweater.  But I did it anyway.  And I persevered, even though there were times that I wanted to put her away and be done with her.  Because I loved her so much, and I knew that she was the perfect cardigan for me.

I learned that I am a process knitter.  Wait, I promise this is a life lesson.  Because it’s all about the process, isn’t it?  I didn’t really enjoy knitting Arwen because of the awkward construction and the complicated cabling.  I won’t pick another project like this, no matter how much I love the FO.  Because if the process isn’t enjoyable, is it really worth it?

I learned that it’s ok to need help.  And man, oh man were there times that I needed help with Arwen.  As Anne, Sue, Sue, and the rest of the Nutty Knitters.  I needed help, asked questions, and talked about this cardigan incessantly for almost 9 months.  But with other projects, where I was all the happier to let someone else seam it up or fix something, I wanted to do this one all on my own.  And for the most part, I did.  Even though the seaming might have been better if Anne had done it, and even though there were sections Sue could have easily frogged for me so that I could fix them.  I wanted this to be mine.

Most of all, I am proud of myself.  Arwen certainly isn’t perfect.  But she’s mine.  I did it.  This really is Arwen’s song–the end of an era.

Like her?  I promised my friend Samantha that when people complimented me on her, I’d simply turn around and say, “thanks.”  No excuses, no faults.  Just, “thanks.”

Thanks.

4

Sue and Anne

Two of my closest friends since arriving in Harrogate, Sue and Anne are fellow knitters.  And they’re sisters, at that.  They are some of the first people I’ve met since arriving here that I don’t feel silly texting over nonsense, sitting around and doing nothing with, or care if my girls are being bears or the house is a mess.  The closest things I have to Kiki and Courtney abroad, in short.

Well, Sue had me as her swap partner for our first At Home in Harrogate Swap!  There were assorted knitting goodies and some gorgeous yarn.  And there were these…my first pair of handknit socks that I didn’t knit!

Nutkin, Knitting Goddess

Nutkin, Knitting Goddess

They are fabulous, and I’ve been wearing them incessantly!

But on another note, Sue and Anne (mostly Sue) issued a bit of a challenge to me last night at our Knit Night.  I was laughing over Arwen not growing without me knitting her (the audacity) and Sue commented that she doesn’t think I’ll ever finish her.

Never finish her?

The thought has never crossed my mind.

So this morning, with my hand looking like this:

Suspected Carpal Tunnel, Not Knitting for 3 Days

Suspected Carpal Tunnel, Not Knitting for 3 Days

I whipped this:

Arwens Right Side, more than halfway completed

Arwen's Right Side, more than halfway completed

out of my knitting bag and set to work.  The good news is that since I knit her with twisted stitches before knew better, and there is so much cabling, I actually have to go slowly and there isn’t any pressure on my hand.

Take that Sue (and Anne).  I’ve now knit two more rows!

Am I done yet? 😉

1

Knackered.

That’s the best word I could come up with to describe how I feel today.  I am completely and utterly worn out.  Yesterday was an absolutely fab time with friends, but I had no idea how old I was getting.  Seven hours on a train, knitting, hopping cabs to and fro in London, a knitting show, a pub lunch, 3 bottles of wine (I shared), and some walking around, and I seriously feel like I ran a marathon yesterday.  Maybe I’m getting to old for this!

We had a few unexpected problems along the way, but what journey doesn’t?  Ultimately though, we made it there and home relatively unscathed, still friends, and without having poked anyone’s eyes out with a dpn (though there was a lady on the train who almost deserved the honor).

The stalls were fab, filled with yarn, needles, and knitting books and notions.  The Yarn Harlot’s talk was great.  I got a fair amount of knitting done on the plain Jane sock I am working on. I had a great time with some of my closest friends here in Harrogate.

All in all, not a bad day, eh?

5

I’ve been promoted!

I don’t write much about my writing, but I have exciting news about it today!  After eleven months of writing for Associated Content, I’ve gone up to Clout 9.  This means that I’ve had almost 200,000 page views on my 215 articles.  I’ve now gone from making $1.50 for every 1,000 page views to earning $1.75 for every 1,000 page views.  I write about whatever strikes my fancy, the news, and often get to fill calls for some of their partner websites.  My web writing career really seems to be taking off!

Though I know that a lot of my traffic comes from google now that I’ve learned more about web writing, keywording, and search engine optimization, I also know that many of you read every word that I write at Associated Content.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  I appreciate it not only for the money, but for the support.  Writing has become a huge part of my life since I’ve moved overseas, and I love that I have been able to share it with many of you. 

I can’t say enough about how much I love writing for Associated Content, and the opportunities that it has given me.  It’s re-ignited my love of writing, and was indirectly responsible for me deciding to write my novel. 

Thanks, AC.

Thanks friends, family, and readers.

On to Clout 10!