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Ann's Attempt at a Blog

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Blogging101

Another year over, a new one just begun

Looking back at all this year has held for me, I’ve had a pretty good run. There have been some troubles, but far more highlights. My Facebook feed this morning reminded me of a post I had four years ago, looking back at my knitting productivity. I’ve continued to make strides in that arena. In 2016, I finished 83 projects including 21 shawls, 11 cowls, 19 pairs of socks, three sweaters and three afghans – only one of which was baby-sized. I’m quite proud of what I accomplished here – 36,725 yards used up in knitting projects!

But that’s not the only craft I put my time and talents behind. I was cast in three different musical productions and managed to land my first lead role. Performing as a Narrator in the King Avenue Players’ production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was certainly a highlight of my acting career thus far. And 2017 promises to have some similar opportunities. I’ve been cast in the ensemble for the Lancaster Playhouse production of Godspell, running over two weekends toward the end of winter, and I’m also appearing in another Columbus Entertainment Productions show in early Spring.

My travel adventures were few and far between, but I managed to visit both coasts of the U.S. In July, I flew out to Seattle to set sail to Alaska – visiting my 40th state in the country. Physical limitations made things challenging on that trip, as did weather. Still, it was an adventure with a few unique experiences. I’d say the highlight was witnessing several humpback whale breeches as well as a group of humpbacks bubble-net feeding.

In September, the company flew me to Boston to attend a training seminar on project management. My schedule didn’t allow for much sightseeing, but I was blessed to get to spend an evening with my niece. She cooked a delicious dinner, and we had a pleasant time catching up.

My last photographic adventure came on Christmas Day when I headed to the Ohio State fairgrounds to check out the Chinese Lantern Festival there. This was quite an extraordinary event with beautiful exhibits throughout the venue. They also had some very entertaining performers – jugglers, acrobats and more. The most impressive was the face mask changing act. Hopefully that festival becomes a regular event – it’s never been held in Columbus before.

I would say there were two lowest point for the year. First, I spent many hours at the hospital with my mother. Spending time with her wasn’t the low point, mind you. Rather, I took her to the emergency room after she hurt her neck. The eventual diagnosis was that she had fractured two of her vertebra. Talk about a scary situation! But, she was treated with great care both at Mount Carmel – St. Ann’s Hospital and the Ohio State University Medical Center. After she was transported to OSU, I was able to meet up with my son who works at the medical center and had concluded his shift just as we arrived. He was able to give me some insight into the nature of the injury. Thankfully, Mom made a full recovery, following a brief stay in a facility for physical rehab. That brought tremendous relief.

The other low point, though, did not have a happy ending. My aunt passed away in May following a couple years of declining health. The world lost a beautiful soul with her death. I had visited my aunt and uncle in their beautiful home in southern Oregon, and she was always so warm and hospitable. I’ll remember her quite fondly.

I don’t want to close out this post on a down note – though my Ohio State Buckeyes are not bringing a celebratory mood to this New Year’s Eve! I have plenty of plans to achieve goals, enjoy adventures and improve on things in the coming year. I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday on Easter Sunday, and I would really like to be in better physical shape than I was on my 40th birthday. Given the challenges that a back injury has caused over the years, it’s been a rough road. But I need to reverse that trend.

So here’s to a better year in 2017. May you enjoy the adventure along with me!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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