Back in the swing of things

Back in December, my community (led by my aunt Colleen) had a sort of a Christmas Bazaar at the old railroad depot in my hometown. It was a ton of fun, and I definitely hope we do it again this year.

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Cakes on display for the Cake Walk

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My mom (and sister) with her giant homemade scrabble boards

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My aunt Colleen in the fray

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I sold quite a few pairs of socks.

After the furious knitting that I did in preparation for the Bazaar, compounded with a couple of special orders for Christmas presents, along with my OWN knitting for Christmas presents, I was pretty wiped out with knitting for a while.

I tried to pick it up here and there a few times after the holiday season, but couldn’t manage much enthusiasm and soon laid it down again.

Well, I finally rediscovered my gusto!

I’ve been knitting more socks (to sell), which I know isn’t exactly the most lucrative business, and I know I’ll never make enough to cover the labor involved. But as I enjoy knitting, and as I need a little spare income (as I am recently engaged and trying to plan a wedding), I figured my time could be spent worse.

Here are my latest sockies in their natural habitat (not).

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Hello Again

Well it’s been a couple of ages since I wrote last. To be honest, I’ve never been the most reliable journal-keeper, but that is just the cross I bear.

There have been a fair few changes in my life. I’ve graduated. I’ve moved. I’m in a new relationship. I’ve finished teaching (thank goodness). I’m hoping to hunker down and write a novel. I’ve made a couple jigsaw puzzles. I’ve also knit quite a few things!

I’ll post more on that last item later. In the meantime I’m just trying to keep warm in these bleak, winter days.

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Letter Box

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My sisters, my close friends, and I like to send old-fashioned letters and postcards through the mail. Yes, the real mail. No thank you, email. No thank you, facebook messages. We’d rather use stamps and sealing wax and parchment paper, and have something tactile to hold on to. Something that is special and personal in a way an email rarely can be.

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So here’s my letter box–a genuine treasure trove. It’s so fun to go through when you’re feeling lonely or nostalgic or just bored.

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It definitely makes me feel like Elizabeth Bennett or Jane Eyre. Here’s a pretty stack of letters…Image

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Waiting for Spring

Well, it’s been a while… Okay, more than a while. It’s been ages.

What have I been doing all this time?

Well, I’m in my final semester of my master’s program. Which means that I’ve been furiously working on my Literature Thesis, due in a month. I’m writing on chores and domestic images in Young Adult literature, which should be fun, but as it is something that I HAVE to do rather than something that I’m doing for fun, working up the motivation to write is a bit like pulling molars out. 

I have also been teaching a couple freshman English classes–which means trying to force a little bit of writing ability into young minds that have never read a book in their lives (at least post-Dr. Suess)…

I have also been working at the grocery store part time, which means that when I would rather be reading or knitting, I am instead dealing with frustrated customers whose melons were bad. 

But I have managed to get a few projects done in the meantime…

Like these hand-sewn, hand-embroidered handkerchiefs.

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And these hand-sewn coasters.

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And this delicious focaccia bread.

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And this fun little tree-stump pencil holder.

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And of course, more socks. But more on that later. 

The Great Sock Adventure of 2012

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It started out as a simple enough idea. How better to be self-sufficient than to learn how to make your own socks? It all seemed so simple, so safe–a modest plan to create modest footwear. However, it soon ballooned out into a mania that has now spawned dozens of Christmas present ideas and devious plots of commercialism…

As stated in my previous post, I’ve been dreaming of a slower, more hands-on lifestyle where I make my own things and enjoy a lifestyle more befitting of an older time. I forayed into several different arenas of the homemade, including hand-sewn handkerchiefs and coasters and homemade bread, of which I will post more later. Then, a few weeks ago, I was listening to Little Women on audiobook for inspiration, and boy! Those girls make a lot of socks! My plan was formulated before you could say “Marmee”. 

So I found a set of instructions online (not having the first idea of how to… “turn a heel?”) and whipped up a pair and a half. Here is one sample, made for the man of the house. His feet are rather long.

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Then, the visit that clinched my fate. I went to see my dad the next weekend, and when he heard I was knitting socks, his face lit up like a little boy at Christmas. He rushed off to his bedroom and came back with a pair of hunting socks so patched up and unraveled that I couldn’t believe it when he said he still wears them. Apparently they were made for him by my great-grandma 20 plus years ago, and he is so enamored with them that he can’t let them retire as they so clearly deserve. 

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The darned heel:

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The unraveling balls of the feet:

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I was quickly commissioned to make him a new pair, exactly — I repeat, exactly — like these ones. 

Apparently, to my dad, these socks are perfect. He was particularly impressed with the fact that they come up to the perfect spot on his calves so that, with a pair of hunting boots over them, the red ribbing peeks out over the top. The ultimate in design, I guess. 

Thankfully, my great-grandma’s pattern didn’t stray too terribly far from the socks I had already been making, so I didn’t have to stretch my improvisational techniques very much. These new hunting socks only needed a longer calf, with ribbing only at the very top, and instead of grafted toes, a sort of circular decrease like at the top of a hat. 

I picked out a similar color combination in 100% wool yarn (Paton’s Wool Classic) and got to work. If I can say so myself, I think the resulting socks are pretty darn good. 

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Then I made him a backup pair, altering the pattern slightly so that the blue toe starts earlier up the foot, hopefully preventing the wear and tear at the ball of the foot where the two colors meet.

They look a bit baggy at the toe, but only because, while I have huge feet for a girl, my dad has huge feet for a guy. I’m fairly confident they will look more fitted on his feet. 

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Then I made another pair for my boyfriend, whose grey socks (see above) were looking pretty sad compared to these new socky masterpieces…

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A pair for myself is currently in progress. In the meantime, every coworker, family member and friend who has seen me knitting these babies has requested a pair. And I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at selling some this fall, perhaps on Etsy. So, needless to say, I will be fairly busy in the coming months. But at least socks present endless design modifications, so I don’t think I’ll get bored. And if I do, there’s always Buffy to watch while I work…

 

A solemn statement before the frivolity begins…

We live in a technological age. We are surrounded by cell phones, ipods, and laptops. Every day a new gadget is invented to make our lives more “convenient” or “comfortable.”

Well, to be frank, I could do without the lot of it. Obviously this statement must be taken with a grain of salt, as I have typed it on my laptop, posted it to the internet, and hope to watch an episode of Buffy on Netflix once I hop down from my soapbox.

But in all honesty, I really wouldn’t mourn any gadget or convenience if I were magically transported into the middle ages (except for my glasses, but hey, I can squint).

With all of this “progress” I think we are losing touch with what it means to truly live. We have become spoiled and entitled, and can’t even appreciate the things that we have because we are so immersed in the age in which we live. We drone on through the days, missing so much, because of the constant distraction and meaninglessness. There is so much packed into every instant, every scene, it is impossible to see anything. Tabloids, television, billboards, facebook, twitter, McDonalds, itunes.

So many people in the world are sleepwalking through their lives. I want to wake up, if only for a moment or two every day.

This means several things for me…

I want to be more in touch with the use of my time. Would it be fun to lose a weekend to watching Lost on Dvd? Yes. Would it be a responsible use of my time? Probably not.

I want to be more in touch with the commodities I purchase. Rather than buying, I would like to make as much as possible.

I want to create things. If I must watch that season of Lost, I can at least knit while I’m doing so.

I want to grow some of my own food. Maybe just some parsley at first, and then we’ll see.

I want to engage with the “old world” of letter-writing, handkerchief-carrying, pipe-smoking, skirt-wearing fun.

I want to see the leaves on the trees. I want to take walks and notice the things that I pass.

I want to take more pictures.

This will be an account of my time. In chronicling my triumphs and failures, I hope at least to be made more aware. It will be called the “Uffda Venture” — “Uffda” is a Scandinavian exclamation, often expressing sensory overload or dismay (along the lines of “ay me” or “oy ve”). I also associate it with exertion, as you might say it when launching yourself out of a comfy armchair after a heavy meal. I think this is an appropriate title for my venture, as I am both overcome by sensory overload, as well as trying to exert myself.

I doubt this will be a total transformation of my life. I will still experience the modern marvels that are cars, toilets, and computers. But I hope to at least change a little thing here or there. In all practicality, I hope to do at least one thing a week that will be worthy of this lengthy and sanctimonious statement of purpose, and post about it here.

This chronicle will probably often look like a crafting blog. At other times it may look like a ranting-space against technology. At other times it may look like a blog that hasn’t been updated in a very long time. But I will try to stay true to my cause as best I can.

If nobody reads it, that will be just fine. If I don’t even post one more entry, don’t say I didn’t warn you.