Search

Ann's Attempt at a Blog

sharing stories of fiber and fun and more…

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s Good to Have Goals

While my title may seem facetious and mocking the idea of goals, I really do recognize their value. I’ve been investing time and energy in the arena of goal-setting and striving to meet those goals. The one facet of my routine that has consistently been goal-driven, of course, is my knitting. Under the auspices of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry, I have been particularly productive in my knitting activities. I’m involved in a number of other groups in the Ravelry community, and all of them provide me with motivation to continue my crafting efforts, learning new techniques (and crafts) and perfecting those I’ve already learned.

This year my crafting efforts have produced some additional rewards, both for me and for others. Over the summer, I was honored to receive a couple ribbons in recognition of my knitting skills in my first year submitting work to the Ohio State Fair. When I found out I won a blue ribbon for my cable-heavy pullover sweater, I was truly ecstatic. But my knitting isn’t all about me. I also began knitting for charity, contributing a collection of hats for a couple different programs. Hats for Kiddos has received a number of hats from me this year, and more will come this fall. This program benefits the children in Tennessee’s Early Intervention Program. I’ve also started knitting for the Hats for Grammy collection, which donates hats for the homeless administered by Grace United Methodist Church. I’m still identifying other charity organizations to contribute to, as these I’ve already mentioned were promoted through a retreat group based in Tennessee, and I’d also like to help folks closer to home.

Hats for Kiddos
Hats for Kiddos

I have other goals, too, that drive my knitting efforts. Gifts are always a fun way to put my talents to use. I’ve knit several baby sweaters for co-workers’ newborns, and one colleague even got a super-fun colorful baby blanket that should come in handy as the cool weather approaches. For my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary last year, I put a lot of time into an afghan that was inspired by one of the rose windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I’ve also recently finished an afghan of cable-accented squares that will be gifted to a bride & groom later this month. These milestones all have the benefit of being planned well in advance, giving me time to plan the gift, choosing the pattern and yarn, and then executing the knitting efforts.

This year, my crafting has expanded a bit into the “multi-craftual” realm. Last year I learned how to spin with my spinning wheel, though this new craft requires time, effort and concentration to master. It will be some time, I am sure, before I can really say I’ve mastered the skills. Still, with every spinning session, I gain experience and understanding of the process. Practice, practice, practice! It was definitely challenging for me to feel like a fool at first, making “crappy” yarn as I learned to work with the fiber. But as with all things, my spinning efforts improved over time, and last month I even managed to knit a shawlette out of yarn I’d spun and plied myself. That was a tremdous achievement for me, one I’m extreely proud of. And a positive experence like this motivates me all the more to continue my efforts – improve my spinning technique, and then knit with the resulting yarn!

Shawl knit from my homespun yarn!
Shawl knit from my homespun yarn!

The latest craft I’ve picked up after a long hiatus is sewing. This crafty revival started when I volunteered to help a local theater group in making some costumes for a show they’re opening this fall. Dusting off my skills with the sewing machine while making a couple kimonos, I remembered how satisfying this craft can be. And its end results are achieved much faster than in knitting. I had signed up to participate in a swap, and one of the agreed-to items was something handmade. More often for me, that would be a knitted object – but then I realized I could sew a unique gift as well. So, I located the perfect fabric for my swap partner, an avid reader, and I put together a handy project bag that showcases her appreciation for books. Now I’m working on a somewhat adventurous project, making a dress to wear for the wedding I mentioned earlier. It’s been years since I made a dress for myself, and more than 25 years since I sewed my first dress with the hep of my aunt. I have about ten days to complete this project, so daily goals are important as I work toward the finish!

And the knits just keep on coming – I recently learned of a knit-along (“KAL”) hosted by a podcaster in the Boston area (Down Cellar Studio) that runs for the duration of the NFL football season. Points are earned by crafting finished objects (knit, crochet, spin, weave), and yardage determines the points along with the use of team colors (NFL or college), use of a logo, an obvious football theme, and more. Another KAL that was begun by a central Ohio designer involves knitting a cowl to document the scoreboard results of a football season for a collegiate or professional football team. This fun project ties nicely to the bigger points-earning event (brilliantly called the Down Cellar Studio Pigskin Party). Not only am I knitting up a bright, cheery cowl to spotlight the season for the Ohio State Buckeyes, I’ll be renewing a love from my youth for the Pittsburgh Steelers, crafting a cowl to document their season. It helps knowing there are a number of Buckeyes in the Steelers roster! I’ve cast on my scarlet & gray cowl, which is far more scarlet than gray after two games so far. Since the scarlet is sparkly, it’s very fun.

Following the Buckeyes' shutout of Hawai'i, here's my Scoreboard Cowl in progress
Following the Buckeyes’ shutout of Hawai’i, here’s my Scoreboard Cowl in progress

As a fairly polygamous knitter, I now have five projects on the needles and plenty more waiting in my queue to be cast on. I have a schedule mapped out to finish each project in a timely manner based on my (often internally imposed) deadlines. Now we’ll see how many points I can rack up as the NFL season progresses…

Knit on.

Editor’s note: After finishing my draft, I was pleased to learn that my Sock Sniper socks reached their target in the UK. The completed socks earned me a “kill” in this fun game, and I’ve made a new online friend in the process!

Living on a High Fiber Diet…but not the way you might think!

This is shaping up to be a knitting-centric post. Of course, that’s likely because I’m spending so much of my “spare” time (aka whenever I’m not working or sleeping) either knitting or spinning. Somehow, it just never seems to get old for me. It does help that I have a number of projects going on at once, and I try to rotate a variety of things so I’m working on different yarn weights and different needle sizes.

A major impetus for me has been challenges and offers of rewards, some tangible and others not. For a number of years I’ve found motivation to start and, more importantly, finish projects thanks to the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup group on the Ravelry social media site. This group breaks the calendar year into three 3-month terms and provides incentives in the form of points (much like Whose Line Is It Anyway? these points don’t matter in the “real world”) to help one of the four Hogwarts houses to win the House Cup each term. The structure of the group follows that of the beloved Harry Potter book and movie series, and we are given the opportunity to plan projects of varying complexity and size.

Later this year I will be proposing to knit a sweater for myself in order to earn the Muggle Studies OWL which would secure me the title of OWL Mistress, presuming I finish the current term’s OWL (Defense Against the Dark Arts) by the end of this month and then complete the sweater by November 30. This year so far I have completed 12 pairs of socks, seven cowls of various sizes, six shawls, five sweaters (granted, only one wasn’t for a baby), one scarf, two blankets (also baby-sized) and two pairs of mittens. I’m also on track to complete a full afghan (wedding gift), another adult sweater and three shawls by the end of August.

Besides the House Cup group, I’m also motivated to earn goodies (including more yarn) through a couple programs offered by The Loopy Ewe, a yarn store with a brick-and-mortar facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. My first purchase with them was made in the store while I was visiting a friend in Colorado. Since then, all of my orders have been made via their online mail order service. Another group providing incentives is the Into the Wool Retreat group, comprised of the organizers and attendees of this fall’s retreat in Tennessee. Each attendee has been placed on a team, so we’re getting to know others who will be traveling from around the country for this weekend in the hills. Whichever team earns the most points will collect prizes as a result, so here the points matter!

The last vehicle for maintaining my “high fiber” regimen is the Tour de Fleece, a yarn spinning challenge that runs parallel with the cycling raise, the Tour de France. While I’ve only been spinning for a little over a year, the Tour is helping me to hone my spinning skills by getting me “on the wheel.” I’ve completed one skein of yarn so far, and I should complete at least one more before the race concludes on July 26th.

And now that I think about it, I haven’t spent any time at my wheel today, so I need to get back to spinning. As I head off, here’s the first skein I spun between July 4 and 11.

Fractal spun 2-ply, Fractured Fairytale

What’s Going On?

Starting Out
With this Blogging 101 program, I’m working on structuring this blog based on the inspirations I wrote about previously. It’ll probably take some time to figure out (1) how I want to present my posts and (2) how to get WordPress to do what I decide in (1). My next challenge is to publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-you element in it. The new-to-me element here is the formatting, since I haven’t used any sort of section formatting previously. That being said…here’s what’s new with me!

Knitting
With the motivation of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry, I always have multiple projects in the works. Month-end is generally more laden with FOs (Finished Objects), and every three month term ends up with even more FOs toward the end as I complete my larger projects.

June was somewhat productive for me, and July is shaping up to be similar. Last month, I knit one pair of socks, two baby sweaters, a scarf and a hat, and finished a large cowl that I started in May. This month, I managed to knit a beautiful sweater in seven days, and I finished one shawl while I’m working on finishing another now. Other WIPs (Works In Progress) include a sweater, a shawl and two cowls, all of which I’m trying to finish up this month. Later today I’ll be casting on another shawl to work up this month. In addition, I have a big project of an afghan that is made up of individual blocks, nine in total, that will be a wedding gift later this year. I’ve finished four squares, and I have five more to complete before I connect the blocks and add a border. The fifth block is started and is now 20% complete. Yes, I’m that kind of geek, monitoring my progress on each project with the help of spreadsheets. It helps me stay on target to meet my goals, and it also inspires me to keep working.

With the larger projects, I figure out how many stitches/rows/rounds I need to complete each day to meet my deadline. Most of the time, I’m motivated to exceed that daily target, and that’s what makes me so productive. In a later post I’ll share details on all the knitting I’ve done this year. Meanwhile, here is the sweater I completed this week.

DSC_2041c

Travel
I’ve been blessed in recent years with opportunities to expand my travel horizon. As of right now, I have visited 39 states in the U.S. and eight foreign countries. While I have been within the borders of Germany, which would be a ninth country, since I never stepped out of the airport, I’m not counting that. ♥ Later this year, though, I’m hoping to add two more states to my list, and in a couple years, two more countries.

I’m still in the process of reviewing the photos I took this past May when my son and I traveled to Italy. Having been there briefly in 2013, I was looking forward to getting a more in-depth look at The Eternal City as well as venturing through the many sights in Florence. Once I’ve gotten through the photos, I can share stories of our adventures!

DSC_1386

Photography
The majority of my picture-taking time has been focused on either knitting or travel, though I am occasionally inspired to snap a more artistic image. I’ve taken a couple classes this year to develop my photography (and photo-editing) skills though. I also have a few favorite spots around Columbus where I like to take pictures. The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is a frequent subject. Another is Shadowbox Live, an entertainment venue I’ve been patronizing for more than fifteen years. Their facility definitely presents challenges, though photography is encouraged. Last night I had a unique opportunity to witness a performance from behind the curtain, dining and enjoying the scene backstage. Cast & crew were flying past throughout the show, and some took time to stop by and say hi or share tidbits about their experiences in the production.

DSC_2100

Miscellanea
It’s time for me to publish this post and return to my life already in progress. I’ll continue to mull over the format of my posts, and research formatting options, so stay tuned for what’s next!

Seeking More Inspiration

The latest prompt in Blogging 101 is to “follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.” And so I’m looking for input from you! If you can recommend a blog, please leave a comment with the details! It needn’t reside on WordPress. In fact, since WordPress can direct me to blogs based on topic here, details on non-WP blogs would be greatly appreciated! Keep in mind that my primary topics are knitting, travel and photography, but stories about other geeky pursuits are also gratefully accepted.

Cheers!

Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

I’m baaaaaack! It’s been a ridiculously long time since my last post, though I’ve certainly thought about it periodically for nearly two years. Now, with the start of a new Blogging 101 program from WordPress, I’m finally feeling a bit of motivation and inspiration to jump back in here. The other inspiration has been the large number of podcasts I’ve been listening to lately. More on that later though.

I’ve been charged with the task of posting, as the title suggests, about myself and my reason(s) for blogging. I’m a mother/daughter/sister/niece/cousin/friend/co-worker. I work in IT for a global company, supporting some of our proprietary software. I’m active in my church, my knitting group and in a community theater. When time and money permit, I love to travel, and my destination list is growing by leaps and bounds since my son graduated from college.

Why have I decided to blog? Who wants to hear about my escapades as I meander through life? Going back to those podcasts I’ve been listening to, the majority of them are individuals sharing a part of their lives with the listeners. Outside of the NPR entertainment and The Nerdist, the folks I follow are knitters, and they share bits and pieces of their lives, much like I do in my blog.

So, after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to focus my posts on the three main topics I shared in my oh-so-brief profile: knitting, travel & photography. They can be covered individually or altogether, depending on where I’m spending my time. Other parts of my life may become material for sharing, too, but the trio will at least provide the primary material.

I hope you enjoy accompanying me on this journey…I’m eager to see where it takes me!

Tales from the Great 2013 Adventure – part three

Athens

This city in Greece was what I expected to be a major highlight of this whole trip. It certainly was A highlight, but not the pinnacle I had thought it would be. That’s mostly due to the limited amount of time I had to visit this historic city. Even so, the adventures here began early in the morning — I was awake well before we were due into the Port of Piraeus, so I ventured topside to experience our pre-dawn arrival. That was pretty incredible.

Sailing in to the Port of Piraeus
Sailing in to the Port of Piraeus

I had some intriguing experiences as I ventured off the ship. First, this was the first time I was confronted with the challenge of a language barrier. Because I was traveling on my own, using public transportation and my handy-dandy Rick Steves Audio Europe app, it took a bit of navigational skills to locate the metro train station. The signage on the street wasn’t sufficient, and I ended up missing a key turn. When I realized I’d walked too far, I stopped a sanitation worker to ask for assistance. She didn’t speak English, but when I said the key word “Metro?” she graciously provided direction using gestures. I was at the Metro station ten minutes later.

The train was significantly faster than catching a bus, and probably easier to navigate without impeding other travelers. I arrived at Syntagma Station in twenty minutes and began the audio tour. From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the Arch of Hadrian and Temple of Olympian Zeus, I traipsed through the city. After the arch, I meandered through the Plaka’s shopping district, picking up a few souvenirs, then headed in the direction of the Acropolis (where the Parthenon is). That was quite an adventure, just ascending the Acropolis, amidst the Sea of Humanity (a phenomenon I encountered repeatedly on this trip); but it was certainly worth it.

I was approached by a couple asking to have their photo taken in front of The Parthenon, so they graciously returned the favor.

Me in front of The Parthenon (along with some random strangers)
Me in front of The Parthenon (along with some random strangers)

I did stop for a bit at a cafe nearby to sit and drink a soda…

A refreshing Coke Zero a la Athens
A refreshing Coke Zero a la Athens

Once I’d descended to ground level, my energy was pretty well tapped. I slowly made my way back to the train to return to the ship. When I return to this ancient city, I will continue this adventure. But for THIS great adventure, I’m prepping for the next country on the itinerary…

 

Tales from the Great 2013 Adventure – Part Two

Dubrovnik

For those who don’t know, the city of Dubrovnik is in the country of Croatia, part of the former Yugoslavia. This coastal city has a rich heritage, and is so naturally beautiful. I get the impression, based on all I’ve read, that it’s been discovered by many tourists. I was delighted to learn that my brother had visited the city while he was stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina nearly fifteen years ago.

Certainly the biggest tourist attraction here is the Old City, a pedestrian area surrounded by a great wall. I had planned in advance and bought the Dubrovnik Card in order to save a bit of money. I didn’t get to utilize it to its fullest extent, but I’m still glad I got it. I shared a cab with a lovely couple to get to the Old City from Port Gruz, and soon after I walked through the Pile Gate and began my walk down The Stradun, the main thoroughfare.

Image

Once I’d walked all the way down The Stradun, I prepared to climb to the wall – there are three entrances to ascend to its walkway. Visitors can travel the entire distance around, and it’s certainly a sight to behold! For the first part of the day here, there was scattered showers, but the clouds past on as I made my way around the wall. Once I reached the highest point, I found someone to snap my photo with the city as the backdrop.

Image

A sad yet interesting fact about the roofs you see behind me. Dubrovnik suffered greatly from bombing during the civil war in Yugoslavia (1991), between the Croats and the Serbs. All those bright orange tiles are “new,” having replaced the original tiles due to the bombings. The duller roofs in some cases were not harmed in the bombings, but there are also instances where the roof was replaced and then covered with the remnants of the original tiles. From the wall, this detail is more noticeable.

Image

Some day I may return to see more of what the city has to offer, to experience more of its rich history. For now, I have many lovely memories of this day.

Tales from the Great 2013 Adventure – part 1

Venice

This year marks my biggest vacation adventure to date, a Mediterranean cruise. The trip was my treat to celebrate my first year without any tuition obligations. A friend put together a ladies’ cruise, and we had a group of eight that made it on board. This was my first trip to Europe, so I knew I had a lot of adventures to look forward to. Here’s some snippets of details surrounding the starting point for this adventure.

I left Columbus on Saturday afternoon, stopping at JFK in New York before flying to Marco Polo Airport in Italy. I was most looking forward to sailing down the Grand Canal, having seen it featured in The Italian Job as well as a couple James Bond films. But the movie that had me most psyched about starting in Venice? Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It took some traipsing around and referencing my city map, but I did manage to locate the church, Campo San Barnaba, which was supposedly a church-turned-library in that movie.

Image

Ah, Venice!

On Monday afternoon, our ship set sail for our first port-of-call. This was the only departure I would see for the duration of our trip. This gave me my best view of St. Mark’s Square, though from a side vantage point. Still, this gives a great sense as to the “sea of humanity” in that space. While I was in the square, I was able to spot at least fifteen lions, the symbol of St. Mark. St. George & the Dragon have a nice position as well. I’m still in awe of the history here – like nothing I’ve seen here in the U.S.

Image

In my first day on the ship, I met folks from across the globe. I chatted with Eileen from Ireland when we were both up in the middle of the night. A couple from Tin Can Bay in Queensland, Australia, were companions during the muster drill. I also met a couple from Canada while making my way back to the port. Stay tuned for more tales of my adventures!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 578 other followers