First Day of Spring! Inspirations

Spring is finally here! Although it’s been feeling like spring since February?  But that’s Texas weather for you.  Today I was planting flowers I’d purchased three weeks ago tending to my garden and noticed a lovely Texas bluebonnet blooming.

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I have a brown thumb, so I wanted to capture this moment before it dies next week.  ::insert inspirational thoughts about flowers and spring here::

This weekend was pretty great.  My friends and I decided to check out SXSW on Saturday. I don’t go to SXSW every year, but when I do, it’s always fantastic.  I think my fondest SXSW was in 2011, when Brother and I attended the Foo Fighters documentary premiere Back and Forth, and Dave Grohl was RIGHT ACROSS THE THEATER eating POPCORN and it was CRAZINESS.  That was also the year we waited in line for five hours to get into the MTV Woodie Awards just so we could watch the Foo Fighters perform one song.*

This year my friends and I took a more chill approach to SXSW, but we still had a blast.  They are all artistic people and I feel more inspired to create just being around them.  We also caught some really good shows.  I’d been feeling burned out on shows lately but Saturday refreshed my palate, I think.  My friend and I caught this one band called Happy Meals, and it was such a fun set.  But I’m hesitant to look them up now because I’m afraid they won’t sound as amazing when I’m sober.

Now that it’s spring and I’m wrapping up my pincushion project (the review will be ready this week!), I’m already eyeing more projects to add to my queue.  After my test is done, of course.**

PICTURE TIME.

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Wool and the Gang Dylan Tank

Wool and the Gang has all these awesome free patterns, and I’m eyeing this one for spring.  REAL TALK – I would nix the fringe though.

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Two of Wands, Movie Night Cocoon Cardi

I love this cardi by Two of Wands.  It would be a perfect transitional piece for the approximately two cooler days I can expect this spring.

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Lion Brand Afternoon Breeze Shawl

Ditto on this shawl.  It’s so cute! I can wear it to work so I won’t freeze to death in my cube.

Finally, I want to make this:

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Fancy Tiger Crafts Sailor Top

I wish I had known about Fancy Tiger Crafts when I visited Denver two years ago, because I would have been ALL UP IN THAT.  I really have been wanting to go back to Denver because Rocky Mountains, the crepes place, Garden of the Gods, it’s amazing, etc etc etc, so this is just another reason to visit, right? Anyway, I got a little sidetracked…this top is really cute and versatile, and it’s supposed to be beginner friendly.  I really want to make it.  And also move to Denver.

I need to be responsible so I should probably sleep. Good night!

*I’m very done with waiting in line for hours and hating my life, but I’m really glad I did it then and have those memories.

** I splurged on a review course so my attitude has gone from “I’m going to fail” to “I might pass, maybe!”

Love Trumps Hate

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After the election, I struggled with what to say about it on my blog.  I ended up writing a passionate post about how dismayed I was about Trump’s win.  I never publicized the blog on my Instagram or Facebook feeds, and I hid the post several months later.  The tone didn’t fit with my blog’s overall feel, I thought, and I didn’t want to offend anyone as I slowly grew my blog and future business.  It’s just best to be nonpartisan with this blog, I thought, and on my private Instagram account I can say what I really feel.

But after the terrible first week we’ve had with the Trump administration, I can’t be nonpartisan here anymore.  It’s too dangerous to be silent.  I have Muslim friends and I worry about their safety.  I worry about my country’s safety as we close our doors to others and as this president makes allusions to a Holy War on Twitter.  What Trump is doing is not American.  It’s hateful and disgusting.

I’m fairly new to the world of activism, so everything in this post is inspired by the great work being done by friends on Instagram and helpful articles I’ve encountered while researching.  I’ve linked the articles in this post.

  1.  Donate.  There are many causes that need our support.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  does essential work in fighting for injustices.  They challenged the Trump immigration ban, along with the National Immigration Law Center  and the International Refugee Assistance Project.    The Council on American-Islamic Relations  is another organization needing support.
  2. Contact your elected official!  Use this website to get contact info for your elected senators and representatives.  I called my senators and congressmen today, and all their voicemails were full! I’ve read suggestions to fax them instead.  There are also emails/contact forms on their websites, but honestly I’m not sure how effective that really is versus calling them.  You can also send postcards from the Women’s March 10 Actions 100 Days initiative.  If you’re like me and never called an elected official before, this article is really helpful on how to approach it.
  3. Don’t become complacent.  There’s a lot of terrible stuff happening in our country right now and it would be too easy to want to turn off the news when it gets “depressing.” But we can’t do that.  Our administration is counting on these unconstitutional actions to become normalized.  We can’t let that happen.  We must fight back by protesting, by staying informed, and by reaching out to our elected officials.

Let’s show the world that there are still plenty of Americans who support free speech, freedom of religion, equality, and justice for all.  Love trumps hate.

And since this is a craft blog…I used a pattern from Maybe Matilda for these beautiful crocheted hearts.

 

The Process of Relearning

“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”

It’s a phrase I find myself pondering as I study for my test.  Right now I’m in the “background” chapters of my reference manual, which consists of lots of math that unfortunately I’ve forgotten. I don’t really like the way the book is structured because a lot of the math is based off of calculus. I remember the very basics of calculus and can probably solve a very simple derivative or integral if  you threw a problem in front of me, but that’s about it.  The book is jumping right into concepts I learned as a sophomore so my brain is struggling to remember, especially anything having to do with structures. My school didn’t have an environmental engineering degree, so my best option was getting a civil engineering degree with an emphasis in environmental engineering. This meant taking a lot of difficult classes on structures that I didn’t particularly enjoy and never used again after graduation.

I used to roll my eyes whenever I heard people complaining about algebra, and why should they have to learn it if they never have to use it?  “HOW DARE YOU,” I’d think. “ALGEBRA IS EVERYWHERE.”  Don’t get me wrong; I like math.  But now I get it.  I don’t particularly WANT to re-learn the radius of gyration or moments of inertia, though I know that these concepts help, you know, keep buildings from falling.  So that’s important, right? But I don’t. CARE.

So I am moving through my reference manual at a snail’s pace as I struggle to remember concepts I learned nearly 15 years ago.  It’s good times.*

I find this concept of forgetting things I used to do well extending even into my crafting life.  I often focus on one technique for awhile and go into a craft frenzy. A couple of months ago I was just crocheting all the time.  Now I’m doing a lot of knitting.  I still consider myself to be a beginner of both, so jumping from one to another can sometimes cause my brain to pause. For example, I was flying back from Philadelphia several months ago.  We hadn’t taken off yet because of the weather, so I dug out a knitting project. Now, for several weeks before this, I’d been doing a lot of cross-stitching for my cousin’s wedding present.  And as I sat there, with my yarn and needles in hand, I realized – I’d forgotten how to cast-on.  I moved my needles frantically around the yarn, hoping that it would magically come back , but no. I could not remember how to cast on.

Or whenever I move  back to a crochet project, I keep having to refresh myself on the stitches.  I think I’ve got single crochet (or double crochet for UK readers) down for life, but even with that stitch, I sometimes do a quick refresher in the event that somehow I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, because WHAT IF.  WHAT IF, GUYS.

Relearning how to do something can be really frustrating. It takes a lot of patience and willpower.  But like anything in life worth doing, taking the extra time to sit down and relearn a task or skill can only help in the future!

In other news, I kind of broke my promise about crafting from my stash:

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This is the first craft magazine I’ve bought in awhile.  This is from the latest issue of Mollie Makes.  This little guy looks just like Apollo!  I can’t wait to stitch him up this weekend. I hope you guys have a great weekend as well!

 

*In case my parents are reading this – see guys, I’m ACTUALLY STUDYING YAYYYYY.

January Craft Goals

Hello my friends! We meet again.

Are you now thinking of that Creed song from fifteen years ago?  YOU’RE WELCOME!

I’m really not sure how I’m still awake. I woke up very early this morning for field work.  The field job is local, which is great!  I really enjoy being able to come home at the end of the day and unwind.  The site is in a fun location within the city, too.  It’s funny because I don’t know how many times I’ve run by that area, not even realizing we had a site there. (I get strangely dorky when I see groundwater monitoring wells while I’m not at work.  I point to them and say, “LOOK! THIS IS WHAT I DO!” and then nobody cares).

It’s been a very cozy week.  This weekend was coooooooold.  It was a perfect time to get bundled up and make things that will keep me warm.  I’m currently on a knitting frenzy. Now that I’ve made one hat, I want to make ALL HATS.

  1.  Craft Goal # 1 – Hat that probably will not fit my head

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I’m working on this pattern (stockinette stitch all the way) using Euro Baby’s Fruits and Veggies yarn.  I bought the yarn when I was in Vegas.  It is super cute.  The ball of yarn was shaped like a blueberry and the little green stem you see in the picture above was on top of it.  Like a blueberry! Get it? Unfortunately, I just made the realization (like, ten minutes ago) that the pattern was developed for a small child.  “But Jenny,” you’re thinking, “the brand is called ‘Euro Baby.’ Is that not a big enough clue that it’s for LITTLE KIDS?” And I’m like GET OFF MY BACK GUYS, IT WAS CUTE YARN, OKAY? I need to think of small children in my life who I can gift this to.  I do have a small cousin so maybe she will like it.

2.  Craft Goal #2 –  Pussyhat

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My Instagram friend Jo let me know of this really cool project going on for the Women’s March in DC.  It’s called the Pussyhat Project.  The idea is to knit enough hats for all the DC marchers to wear.  I love it!  I’m working on a hat now.  I’m not sure if I can finish it by the January 14th deadline, though.  If not, I’ll wear it to the sister march in Austin!

3.  Craft Goal #3 – Embroidery Project of Laziness

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And finally, I really need to finish an embroidery project I started back in…November.  I am really excited about this project since it’s my first design.  I just need. to. finish. it. It’s probably about another hour’s worth of work at the most.

What craft goals do you guys have for this month?

New Year’s Resolutions and Happy News

Happy New Year’s everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful and restful New Year’s.  I know I did.  It’s barely been 2017 for two days, and already there are some pretty big changes in my life – mainly, Boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend.

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He’s my fiancé!!!

Boyfriend Fiancé proposed on New Year’s Day, which was also our fifth anniversary together.  The proposal was perfect.  I never thought I would care much about an engagement ring or planning a wedding, but in the past 24 hours I have A. pinned about 100 wedding-related things on Pinterest and B.  summoned all the adultness  I currently possess to avoid camping outside the jewelry store while my engagement ring is getting resized.  Boyfriend Fiancé and I are so happy and excited about spending the rest of our lives together.  We haven’t delved into the planning too much yet, but I couldn’t resist finding some reading material:

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I definitely want to bring a handmade, crafty element to our wedding.  Knowing how long it takes to make handmade things, I want to start finding easy projects now, things that I know won’t be too overwhelming or stressful.  Boyfriend Fiancé and I are expecting we’ll be married spring of 2018, so hopefully that will give us enough time to plan.  I will definitely be updating you on my crafty wedding projects.

But 2017 is shaping up to be a busy year, even if I didn’t get engaged (and if my dad is reading this – Yes, Daddy, I started studying for my licensing exam).  When choosing my resolutions, I wanted to focus on three areas – my career, my creative self, and my emotional well-being.  Here are my resolutions:

  1.  Pass my engineering licensing exam.
  2. Don’t let wedding planning distract me from passing my engineering exam…but also, do not wait until December 2017 to plan for a Spring 2018 wedding.
  3. Complete my Rosetta Stone Italian modules.
  4. Post at least one tutorial on this blog.
  5. Craft more from my stash.  Do not buy craft magazines unless I absolutely must have the project featured in it.
  6. Cut down on the crafty subscription boxes…they are a lot of fun, but it’s hard to craft from my stash when I’m backed up on subscription projects!  Also, planning a wedding, need to save money, etc etc.  The price of one month’s subscription might be someone’s meal at our wedding (or am I being too overly optimistic and naive about how much catering is?)
  7. Resurrect my daily yoga practice…but without the guilt of missing a day here and there.

We’ll see how overly ambitious this list is once December rolls around.  It’ll be here before we know it.  I’d love to hear your resolutions if you have some!

 

Knit-Wise: Chunky Ribbed Hat Review

I admit that when I opened this project’s box, I was both excited and a little apprehensive!

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I had never worked a project in the round before, used circular needles, or used any decreasing stitches.  But I was eager to knit a hat and dug into the project.  This box comes with all the materials you need – two balls of yarn, a set of circular needles, a tapestry needle, a knit counter (which my dog tried to destroy), and instructions.  There is enough yarn to complete either a small or large hat.  I selected “large” for my project, though the instructions didn’t really indicate how large “large” is supposed to be.

I did struggle a little bit with using the circular needles and learning how to stitch in the round.  When I started the project around Thanksgiving, I could not find the circular needles tutorial on Knit-Wise’s tutorial page.  I checked last night as I was wrapping up my project, and the tutorial was there, so it’s possible I simply had missed it when I’d checked the first time.  There were also tutorials for the other decreasing stitches I hadn’t tried before.  These stitches (like k2tog) were much easier than I had anticipated!  Besides my initial struggles with using the circular needles, the rest of the project was a breeze.

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I really enjoyed this box.  The simplicity of the project made these techniques very accessible to new knitters like myself.  And now I have a beautiful hat to wear!  Now if only the weather can drop below 80 degrees again so I can actually wear it…

 

 

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A New Normal

For the past week, I’ve struggled to articulate what I’m feeling -despair, rage, sadness, disgust, disbelief.  On November 8, our country elected a racist, bigoted, xenophobic sexual predator for president.  And this past week, I’ve been trying to come to terms with why and how that happened.  It’s something that I think analysts and pundits will be parsing through for years to come.  But this much is certain – I’m afraid.  I’m afraid for my country in a way that I haven’t been since 9/11.  This man has incited racial tensions in a way I haven’t seen in my life before.  And going on 60 Minutes to telling his supporters to “stop it” isn’t enough.  He’s condoned this behavior even before he was elected.  And how he got elected is something I am still trying to process.

I’ve read plenty of comments telling us to “get over it.” “Stop being whiny.”  If this were any other election cycle between two qualified candidates, I’d be disappointed if my candidate didn’t win.  But I wouldn’t feel the level of grief that I felt when Trump got elected.  I wouldn’t have woken up the next morning after the election and started sobbing.  But this has not been a normal election cycle.  This country did not elect a qualified man.  This country elected someone profoundly unqualified and a morally bankrupt human being.

I’m a woman.  I’m a feminist. I’m an immigrant.  I moved to this country when I was so tiny that I do not have memories of dwelling in the country of my birth.  But I was raised with two identities – my American one, and my Italian one.  I was fortunate to be raised around diversity and learned early on to accept other religions and cultures.  I became a US citizen when I was 21 and proudly voted for Obama in 2008, which was the first election I ever voted in.  I felt so much happiness and hope when he was elected.  And now, reading stories about violence against Muslims, African Americans, and other marginalized groups sickens and saddens me.  I am ashamed to share my country with these people who think it’s okay to bully and harass anyone, but especially because someone’s skin color or religion differs from theirs.

And now this bully, this demagogue, has been elected as our president.

I mourn.  As a woman, I mourn that my country would rather elect the most unqualified presidential candidate IN OUR COUNTRY’S HISTORY, a terrible man, rather than a competent, intelligent, qualified woman.  I mourn that my country has given its complicit acceptance of sexual assault and abuse of women.  And as a human being, I mourn and fear this president-elect’s terrible human rights violations that he’s embracing as “policies.”

And I don’t even have the time or the energy to discuss how terrible Mike Pence is as a human being.

And the question remaining is – how do we move forward?

While I refuse to respect a man who shows no respect to others, as an American I have to accept the results of this election, no matter how much I loathe and detest that decision.  We donate to causes needing our help with his election, such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.  Jezebel has a fantastic list .  Let’s use our anger to effect positive changes in our community by donating to these causes and volunteering. Let’s focus on working on ourselves to be better people and to show love and kindness to others.

And for the short term…it’s okay to grieve.  Watching my favorite late night talk show hosts – Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, comforted me.  For the first several days after the election, Boyfriend and I went out to dinner and ate our feelings.  We hung out with friends this weekend, which was comforting.

I don’t know what will happen the next four years. But we have to stay alert.  We have to be ready to protect our friends if they are harassed.  We have to show the country and the rest of the world that somewhere, everything that still made America so great is still here.  We don’t need this man to make it great again.