Finally, a sweater!

Spring is finally here, and with it some beautiful color in my yard.

I’ve joked over the years that I’ve had a sinus headache since I was 19. It’s a pretty weak joke, because I have had chronic sinus and allergy issues over the years and frankly, it’s exhausting. So while I don’t love my allergies at this time of year, seeing the explosion of color makes me happy.

I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety lately. It usually starts to become more manageable at this time of year, but for some reason it’s hanging in a little longer than usual. It’s a shitty cycle, too – I’m tired all the time, my legs and back ache, I’m irritable and angry at nothing and everything… and yet, anxious that I’m not doing enough to stay afloat and that everything will go wrong at the same time, that everything will just spin right out of control with no way for me to stop it. Having a headache all the time certainly doesn’t help. I try to grab the good moments when I can, stay somewhat reasonable, and force myself to do things that I know are good for me when I can but it’s hard to do sometimes.

So the bright colors of spring are always welcome, and especially so this year. Bright colors always lift my spirits.

Kind of like the fun aqua color of this modified Flax baby sweater that I finally finished. What I worried would happen did happen: I wore myself out on the project and completely lost interest in working on it. I knew for a week and a half that I only had to do one sleeve to finish the sweater.

One small sleeve. That’s all. And yet, every time I thought about picking it up I made a face and groaned to myself.

I finally forced myself to work on it and wrap it up. I can see some areas that can use improvement (I bet y’all can see them, too). But, y’know, there’s nothing to do but work on that for the next one because I sure ain’t going back and fixing anything at this point.

In other news, I have all of next week off for vacation. I know you’re not supposed to wish your life away, but if offered a trade I’d give up the rest of this week for vacation to arrive sooner. Between now and then, I plan to get ahead of as much as I can at work, study for my Spanish class (I’ve been kinda slack lately; we’re learning irregular verbs and there is so much vocabulary), work on some crafts, snuggle with Rocco, and just keep moving forward.

And maybe listen to more Kylie Minogue, since she’s been in the background as I write this blog post and makes me happy, too.

Until next time,
-Tommy

Tell me something good!

A while back, I texted a friend (who happens to own my favorite bar) an idea for a party theme once we’re able to gather in groups and socialize without fear again: Tell Me Something Good. There should be a giant sheet of paper on the wall with markers available. On this paper, we’ll write all the good things that’ve happened while we’ve lived through the pandemic.

Two things stand out for me: turning 40 and finishing up my MBA. I’d planned to have a fundraising birthday party for my fortieth birthday with the proceeds benefiting my favorite charities, but by the time my birthday arrived in June it was clear that couldn’t happen. When I officially finished up my MBA in September, I celebrated quietly with my husband.

But through this party, we could capture the collective good that happened despite a tough year. We could document the highs during the low and be reminded that we find happiness in many forms.

But here’s what’s currently good.

I got my first vaccine shot! Kudos to Atrium Health for their well organized mass vaccination event at Bank of America stadium in uptown Charlotte. The most difficult part of the whole experience was waiting in traffic to turn into the parking deck. Other than a sore arm later that day and the next, I had no problems. I’ve mostly adapted to the radio signals I’m now picking up from space, too.

All. These. Needles.

I also got a tiny bit of a start on the sleeve of this baby sweater. I’d planned to finish it over the weekend because I need to finish it soon, but got distracted and didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped.

And… I got my latest quilt back from being quilted! I asked my friend Susan to quilt it for me on a long arm machine, because at 96″ square it’s too big for me to quilt here at home. She did a fantastic job! Now I just need to bind it (ugh) and snap some pictures to share of the finished product!

So, there are my little bits of good for the day. I’ll have to remember to look for some more tomorrow.

Until next time,
– Tommy

Hello, carbs!

After I quit smoking, I gained a lot of weight. I then gained more because I ate too much, wasn’t managing my depression well, and wasn’t exercising. So, I started doing keto. I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds and I need to lose a good bit more – I can literally lose 49 lbs and still be considered overweight.

But I’m going to L.A. the first week of April and don’t want to worry about carbs when I go. I haven’t been on a trip in a while and just want to enjoy time with friends. Buying keto-friendly snacks and lugging them around or stressing over keto-friendly restaurant meal options just doesn’t sound like a fun vacation to me. So yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and go off keto.

And let’s be honest: I wanted beer.

So for our semi-weekly Zoom Virtual Happy Hour, I had beer. I also had approximately three quarters of a pepperoni and pineapple pizza. I have exactly zero regrets. God, that pizza was delicious. And today, I had falafel from one of my favorite Charlotte restaurants, Yafo Kitchen. God, that falafel was delicious. I’ll have the leftovers for dinner.

But I need to be mindful of calorie counts and since spring is just around the corner, I might just get out and walk some. The city recently opened up greenway access about a block from my house, so it’s a great place to start. My bff, Sister Mary Hubert of the Ghetteaux Fabulous Sissy Bitches, will likely be recruited to walk with me.

I’d planned to finish my aqua baby sweater, but spent yesterday evening/last night on Zoom with friends. I did manage to finish one sleeve since Wednesday, and will start/finish the second sleeve over the weekend. I can still see some ladders in some areas of the sleeve, but I don’t think they’ll be noticeable once the sweater is washed. If nothing else, I’ll consider buying some 8″ or 9″ circulars for future baby sweaters.

We have no plans for this weekend, so I might finally get a start on my next quilt. I might not. We’ll just have to see how motivated I’m feeling when tomorrow rolls around.

Until next time,
-Tommy

Good morning, AI Overlords.

I’ve adapted pretty well to the “new normal” of life in a pandemic: masks, social distancing, lack of social interaction, work from home, etc. Going back to an “old normal” sure is strange.

I haven’t worked a full day in the office in 354 days. Today, I needed to be on site for the whole day to provide auditors with any gift documentation they might need. I set my alarm for 7:45 a.m. and was awake before it went off (thanks, dear husband and elderly dog). I showered, applied my deodorant and moisturizer, got dressed, made coffee, walked the dogs, and was out the door a few minutes early.

And then the weirdest thing happened. I started my car, connected my phone to the lightning cable, and my iTunes started playing. But Apple Maps didn’t pop up with a route recommendation and estimated time of arrival at work.

My phone no longer recognizes going to work as a normal routine.

I know that technically, it is no longer my norm. Nowadays, my typical morning routine is to roll out of bed around 8:50… ish, grab a cup of coffee, then schlepp back upstairs to work in my craft/office space until coffee or lunch beckons. But c’mon, our phones are telling tech companies everything we do. Wasn’t our AI Overlord paying attention when I told my husband I’d be gone all day? Am I so boring and routine that I no longer interest the bots? Dang.

Craft Updates

Sadly, I don’t have a lot of updates today. I added three more hexagons to my EPP hexie quilt – not even enough to bother photographing.

I’ve made no more blocks for my crazy quilt, because I’m lazy. I considered it, but… nah.

I did finish the body of the baby sweater I’m knitting. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen this already:

I actually have one arm finished (minus the cuff), but it feels like entirely too much work to get my knitting bag out of the car just to take a photograph. I am loving the aqua color, though – it’s not a color that springs to mind when I think of a baby sweater, but I love that it’s bright and fun, as well as being pretty gender neutral.

By Friday, I’ll do my best to have the sweater finished so I have something to show for myself.

Until next time,
-Tommy

I am a knitting bad ass.

Ok, fine, not really. In fact, I’m a pretty apprehensive knitter. I don’t always know how to fix my mistakes so I get frustrated if something goes wrong. More often than not, I’ll simply scrap the whole thing and start again. I often look on in awe at my friends’ projects because I can’t even manage to knit a scarf without messing up somehow. As a result, I don’t knit nearly as often as I crochet, I don’t always enjoy it, and I don’t undertake large projects.

But I did something big.

Something major for me.

I hope you’re sitting down for this.

I KNIT A WHOLE DANG BABY SWEATER!

It ain’t fancy, but I’m proud of it anyway! The Flax sweater in Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn. Color: Frosty Green.

Before I committed to this, I used the almighty power of the Googles to do some homework. I wanted a baby sweater pattern that was beginner friendly, would work with the worsted weight acrylic yarn I already had, and something with a good bit of chatter about it online. My thinking for the last part (which thankfully was correct) was that there’d be ample documentation and helpful resources if I needed them. I finally decided on the Flax sweater from Tin Can Knits, which seemed to be a very popular pattern (with good reason). Besides a fantastic blog post on the Tin Can Knits site walking through the pattern step by step, there are a lot of videos and posts from other knitters about the construction of this sweater.

Is my sweater perfect? Not even close! The areas where I picked up stitches under the sleeves aren’t as tidy as I’d like, my tension isn’t always even, and there’s a slight jog alongside the garter stitch section on the sleeves (though I don’t actually know whether it’s from my own tension issues or working with double pointed needles).

It’s perfectly imperfect, and that in itself is perfect.

But you know what? I sure as heck don’t care. I knit a sweater, I’m learning from it, and I feel like a knitting rock star. Sweaters are useful, practical, and comfortable. I actually wear sweaters on a regular basis, and so I might get some use out of my own dang knitting now.

In fact, I felt so good about it that I started another baby sweater in aqua.

And I don’t know about y’all, but I personally feel prepared to help solve the problem of topless babies if it ever becomes an issue. That’s a definite win.

Until next time,
-TommTomm the Great

Esther’s Charity Hat

Meet Esther.

Esther has the distinct misfortune of being made of styrofoam, has questionable big box store origins, and was designed to be smaller than the average-sized head. I like to believe that she was modeled after the great beauties of generations past, though: Nefertiri, Helen of Troy, maybe even Aphrodite herself. And although Esther could be relegated to such banal usage as a silk flower model, I choose to believe she’s destined for greater things, like wearing the latest hat I made for donation. Sure, it’s very slouchy on her tiny little head but she models it with pride and grace – and takes up minimal space on my bookshelf in the process.

I made it a goal for this year to make at least one item for donation each month. It allows me to use up yarn I’ve had sitting around since the dawn of time (or maybe buy new yarn, but don’t tell my husband that) and is a good way to give back to the community in a useful way.

This past year, being home so much has meant that I’ve had extra time to use on craft projects. I prefer to spend that time somewhat productively. But… I don’t always want to use it making hats and scarves. It gets a little repetitive and takes away from working on other things. So I bought a knitting machine off Amazon.

(Yes. I, too, just heard the collective gasp from the knitting snobs.)

Let’s be clear: I’m not replacing my fiber projects with this gadget. In fact, I’m about halfway through a cute knitting project that I’ll be ready to share next week. I am simply supplementing my output in an efficient way so I can make more items of use for those in need. It’s kind of nice to have a finished object in 20 minutes or so even if your arm gets tired in the process. Partnered with some inexpensive yarn (the yarn pictured is $2.99 per skein on sale and I’ll get 3, maybe 4, hats from it), I’ll be able to make some thick, soft, cozy hats and scarves.

Besides, I’d hate for Esther’s head to get cold.

Until next time,
-Tommy