Sunday, August 30, 2009

Becoming Me - Part 2

Note: Due to my shunning of the camera this part will not have as many pictures of my progress.

Before I returned to the gym in March of this year where I met Janice and Deb, I should note that I did in fact originally enroll at a wonderful place called Silverdale/Kingston Fitness back in August of 2008

At the time I was about 190 and a size 14 and David was starting preschool two days a week at the Kingston Co-op.

My plan was simple: exercise at the Kingston location while David was in preschool and Silverdale (where there is childcare) once or twice a week.

Simple right?

Yeah not so much.

I had taken on the task of Fundraising Coordinator for KCP, which being a Co-Op, the school depends on to help cover the cost of day-to-day operations. I was a brand new parent and no clue what I was getting myself into.

What a lot of work!

Before I took the position I didn't factor in that Robert would at at sea for two of the bigger fundraisers during the year. Not having a second parent at home, I inevitably used the time David was in school to work on fundraising. Let's not even talk about finding time for Moose Threads.

Add in that I committed a HUGE no-no by forgetting to keep up with my medication for Hashimotos - 250 micrograms of synthroid - and I was a disaster waiting to happen.

I tried to hide how depressed I really was, but I know I wasn't 100 percent effective at it. This was right before I started seeing my therapist.

I was lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of supportive women at KCP. They may not have all known about my battle with depression but they were sure as hell willing to help Cindy (my co-fundraising chair) and I with this fundraising gig.
But despite all their efforts, I couldn't help but feel I didn't fit in or that I was doing a very good job.

In September of 2008, for my 29th birthday, my husband purchased 10 personal training sessions for me.

Now before you whip out the duct tape and fire ants in horror of a husband purchasing such a gift for his wife - I need to clarify - that it had nothing to do with his opinion of how I looked.

During this entire weight-loss roller coaster my husband - who swims daily and remains a slim 160 pounds - has not once ever commented on my changing body. Even on my most frumpalicious days he always told me I was beautiful.

(Georgia, Tara, Shelley.... you trained him well)

The personal training sessions were his way of giving me support while he was at sea. Being a fellow swimmer he knew that the thought of free weights and fitness classes scared me more than seeing Joan Rivers in a bikini.

And so my journey to Janice and Deb began.

Originally I was paired with a trainer who I'll call Rebecca 1.

Rebecca 1 was someone who I felt understood what I was dealing with. She had lost 80 pounds herself and was a Navy Spouse.

Perfect right?

Not really.

We spoke on the phone and scheduled our first session, but faster than Lindsey Lohan can make a crap movie , she called and cancelled.

All she said was that she suddenly had to move back east and that someone at the front desk would reassign me a trainer. In fact I never really spoke to her - she left a message on my voicemail.

Strike one.

Well, I was assigned a trainer in the form of someone I'll call Rebecca 2 (yep both had the same name)

Rebecca 2 seemed promising. She seemed to get what I was going through emotionally and what I was looking for in terms of learning to exercise sans pool. This was early October of 2008.

Over the course of two months we met a total of 2 times. Making a training date with Rebecca 2 was worse than trying to teach Jessica Simpson how to read. No matter how far in advance we scheduled a session, inevitably she would call and cancel a mere half hour before I was to leave the house.

Not exactly motivating.

Feeling a bit lost I slowly started finding excused not to go to the gym.

However,I wanted to give her one last chance and so Rebecca 2 asked if we could meet outside of the gym to talk.

When I arrived at the mall (her choice) to meet her, Rebecca 2 had an older woman with her.

Warning bells softly ringing.

Well, over the course of an hour (what can I say I had too many manners drilled into me) Rebecca 2 and this woman - who happened to be a supplement direct sales person, tried to convince me that the only thing that will help my weight loss was by taking a $100 per month concoction of crap.

The woman even went as far as to claim that her own personal doctor used the supplements and that they'd cure my Hashimotos etc.

Warning bells definitely louder now...

The final straw was when Rebecca 2 pulled the I-know-how-busy-with-the-preschool-and Robert-gone-and-your-business-for-you-to-workout-consistently-so-this-is-your-ONLY-option card.

To which the supplement lady promptly adds "Wow you're really busy. What you don't know how to say no?"

By this time my alarm bells had turned into sirens louder that a Gorilla having his butt waxed.

I never saw Rebecca 2 again.

Strike 2

From November 2008 to Feb 2009 I didn't go to the gym at all. I felt guilty considering we were spending the money on the gym each month, I had an unused childcare card and 8 personal training session left to go, but my encounter with Rebecca 2 and the supplement nut left me confused and untrusting.

During this time I gained 30 pounds as I battled my depression (how I had reached 220), and it only seemed worse during the gloomy Western Washington weather.

But after my encounter with my "so very supportive relative" I decided to try and return to working out.

I have never been so nervouse as the day I went back to the gym that February.

I was scared as hell to run into Rebecca 2 and I was so self-conscious that for the first few weeks I wouldn't take off my huge bulky sweatshirt and baseball cap.

In the past, whenever I had joined a gym, the staff was either high and mighty or just plain rude.

Boy did I have nothing to worry about.

Gary at the front desk immediatly recognized me and asked how I'd been and how I was doing.
Melanie, who also worked the front desk, asked if my husband was back from sea and said it was great to see me.

Alissa and Tina in childcare were thrilled to see David and asked me how potty training was going.

It was like I'd been going there for years.

Finally after about a week of using the elliptical I got up the courage to appraoch Melanie about those remaning personal training sessions.
I had no idea if they were still good or if I had to continue with Rebecca 2 in order to use them.

Enter Janice.

Janice is the Personal Training Manager for Silverdale Fitness and though she's just a little thing I've never met someone with such an immense positive presence.

I stumbled through my question regarding my training sessions. I mean, it's not easy to tell someone basically "Hey your trainer sucks monkey butt and I want a do-over."

I then learned that Rebecca 2 no longer worked for the gym and my less than stellar impression of her wasn't just my depression influcing my feelings.

Janice offered to personally help match me with a new trainer, or, if I'd like she'd train me herself.

I'm not sure why, but there was an energy about Janice that was like finding that coveted onion ring amid an order of french fries - it felt meant to be and so I decided to attempt this personal trianing thing for the third and last time.

I didn't know what to expect my first session with Janice.
With Rebecca 2 it was a pretty mundane combination of free weights and the treadmill. Not really my style.

Well I was in for a treat.

The only way I can describe Janice during a training session is to have you imagine if Hello Kitty and Seargeant Slaughter had a child together. She is the perfect combination of sweet, sassy and brute strength.

She pushes me just hard enough to challenge myself, but never fails to crack a joke just at the point I am about to give up.

Her training style is more than just free weights and boring cardio and each session she appraoches me like you would a 1000 piece puzzle.

At first I was a big jumble of rough pieces and undefined shapes.
She first started with the simple edges, giving me an easy frame to work within.
Each session she added a more challenging piece until slowly a picture began to emerge and I could finally see myself again.

I've learned to look at paper plates in a whole new light, love the Bosu Ball and loathe wall pushups. Just when I think I've mastered something, she turns up the difficulty.

Home Run!

And then there was Deb....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Becoming Me - Part 1

As I was attempting to blog about my weight loss journey I realized that I never have really talked about what life was like before I gained the equivalent of 12-year-old boy - 85 pounds

So many associate thinness with happiness - me included. But it's taken me falling so far down the health mountain to realize that even at my thinnest and healthiest I wasn't really that happy.

Growing up I had my chunky-going-through-puberty-freshman-15-moments, however, I always managed to lean out and stay fit.

I probably helped that I was a swimmer at heart who thrived on competition.

In college I hit the pool five days a week - two of those preceded by an hour of kickboxing.

I held down a full class load, two jobs and two internships. Sleep and food were rare if not always fast.

When I graduated college in 2001 I weighed approximately 135 pounds and wore a size 6-8, sometimes a 4.

I was in the best shape of my life, yet I didn't feel pretty or attractive at all - mainly because I didn't have a thick enough skin.

I always attracted those guys - you know the ones that if you don't put out after a few dates find a way to cut you loose by cutting you down.

Let's see.... One guy told me my boobs weren't big enough, another said I wasn't hot enough to impress his friends, and one said I was an 8 but the fact I didn't put out made me a 2.

Bad as those may have been it was a comment made by a very close relative of mine that to this day - 9 years later - still affects me the most.

We were perusing a local shopping center, having what I thought was a great time, when out of the blue said relative looked over at me in my t-shirt, jeans and flip flops and exclaimed (as though she had just witnessed Cloris Leachman and Bea Arthur sunbathing nude)

"My word Kristy! Look at that belly on you! That is not attractive. No man is going to want a women with a belly like that."

Please reference paragraph 7 of this blog.

I was 135 pounds and a size 6-8. I was primarily muscle.

The force of her words hit me so hard I felt as though I'd been hit in the chest by a Grizzly bear who'd just been waxed.

Wow! If this relative, whose opinion I always valued, who I looked up to, felt this way about me then now what?

It was around this time - college graduation - that I now recognize was my first encounter with depression and all that comes with it.

I lived in a town where I had no friends, had a job I hated, my closest relatives constantly criticized my weight and the ultimate breaking point - I was betrayed by one of the few people I knew in the area.

And so the cycle began. I ate because I was sad. I was sad because I ate. I slept because I hated to be alone and I was alone because I slept all the time and failed to get out and make friends.

By the time I snagged a new job near my hometown a year later I had gained 20 pounds and was a size 10. However, I didn't look unhealthy. In fact, given my Sicilian heritage the weight only made me a little more curvy and a lot more busty.

I eventually settled in at a comfortable 160 pounds, which I maintained for about two years.

In 2004 I married my husband and given that he worked crazy day hours and I worked crazy night hours, what little free time we had we spent not at the gym or outdoors but well...eating.

Both of us were usually too tired to cook and so we paid someone else to do it for us.

With a year I was pushing 175 and fitting into a comfortable size 14. Yet I still didn't feel unattractive - unless I was around that certain relative who felt the need to always point out my growing extremities. (She once asked my mother if I was going to fit into my wedding dress by the time the ceremony came around)

Upon our 1-year-anniversary I unexpectedly because pregnant with our son David.

Complications from a medication I'm on, helped push my weight up to 245 at it's highest during my pregnancy. I was so swollen I was literally unrecognizable.

(When I was 8 months pregnant a wife of a former coworker of my husbands once looked at our wedding photo and asked who was in the picture with Robert. Being the grumpy pregnant lady I was, I promptly said "Oh that's just Robert's first wife. I like to keep a picture of their wedding photo to remind him of how good he has it now")

Luckily, with a combination of sleepless nights, breastfeeding, walking and scattered eating I soon found myself back to 170 and a size 12/14 within just two months of David's birth.

It didn't last long.

Soon I found myself on a roller coaster of craziness where every time I thought things were slowing to a stop life would throw me another loop-de-loop.

A family emergency, expensive house repairs, two grandparent deaths 5 days apart and two 90 day patrols shocked me so hard they left me numb.

I felt like I was repeating that first year out of college, only this time I sank deep into this bout of depression faster than a toddler sinks into a pack of unattended oreos.

A new found embarrassment of my body - which was pushing into a tight 14 and tipping 190 on the scale- kept me from going to the gym (what would people think of my poor husband seeing his fat wife, workout clothing was uncomfortable, my knees hurts too much... my back)

When you are in that lonely place you will find any excuse to shelter yourself from the outside.

Food was my comfort and so was sleep. The bigger I got the more angry I got and more angry I got the more I pushed the people who truly cared about me away.

How Robert didn't leave me during this dark time is any one's guess. Work must have seemed like a four-star resort compared to the firing range he came home to. Forget nitpicking - I was full on hurling grenades. Nothing was good enough or made me happy enough. If he said the wrong thing the wrong way, watch out.

Depression had made me paranoid about who I could trust and to me trust is everything.

Finally things came to a head between us where for the first time in our 5-year marriage we found ourselves in a huge shouting match where I told him to leave.

Ummm What?

Luckily I still had some wonderful friends who recognized I was emotionally drowning and fought against my emotional tidal waves to help rescue me.

Deb,Beth and Melissa D listened and helped me keep focused on the one hobby I still had - crocheting - encouraging me to keep going with Moose Threads despite being uninspired.

Shannon W and Katie forced me to get out of the house by inviting me to the park, lunch, playdates - anything.

Jessica stayed up with me online through all hours of the night letting me vent and talk through a lot of the turmoil that was going on inside me.

And Karen - thank god for Karen - worked her schedule to allow me to start seeing a therapist every month.

I was so lucky I had this support system because right in the middle of my climb out of my dark emotional pit I almost lost my grip.

A trip home and another encounter with this particular relative -who I always want so badly to please- was like ramming head on into a Mac Truck.

With me tipping the scales at 220 pounds - my highest non-pregnancy weight - and busting out of a size 16 - I was a great target for a lot of jabs.

Although I had started therapy and was feeling better I wasn't prepared for comments like:

"Pull your pants up you look like a plumber. Why don't you find pants that fit?"
"Do you really think you should be eating that?"
"I thought you were losing weight, it doesn't look like it."

But the real kicker was aimed toward my parenting skills

"Do yourself a favor and don't have any more children. Focus on the one you have because he's obviously a child you have difficulty with."

1-2-3 TKO!

Later that night Robert - who could see I was in distress- tried to lighten my mood by asking if this relative was walking around here on earth who was running hell.

This was in February of 2009.

Now I don't want to give this relative credit for pushing me back into the gym but in a way they did.

I wanted so badly to prove them wrong. To show them that I was stronger than the heavy words they piled on me all the time.

Though I was embarrassed and my workout clothes consisted of my brother's old t-shirts and sweat pants by March I managed to return to the gym.

I didn't really know what to do and workouts consisted mainly of 30 minute sessions on the elliptical.

But this was BJAD - Before Janice and Deb.

It was meeting these two amazing women that truly changed the way I look at myself.

To be continued......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 I lied....

Seeing that my last blog entry was oh in....MAY.... I'm not really as on top of things as I thought.

My idea to move toward applique or applique-only items in my store never happened. Why? Because finding time to be creative lately has been harder than Jessica Simpson attempting to do first grade math.

Here is an example of how crazy today was, which isn't much different than every other day it seems.

1 a.m - put crochet project down after the 50th sneak attack in less than 5 minutes by my not so subtle ninja-in-training kitty. Nothing makes you quit hooking faster than a quick stab in the thigh from needle sharp claws.

3 a.m.- dream I'm being attacked by vampire alligators wearing space suits. Wake up to find said ninja kitty attacking me through my down comforter.

3:05 a.m. - attempt to kick said kitty and her two big sisters out of the room only to discover they have not only enrolled in ninja training but an intense course of sending Morse code via a new door slapping technique.

4 a.m. - wake up to toddler yelling for milk. Deliver said milk to toddler only to learn he is more awake than a guinea pig after a quad-shot espresso.

4:10 a.m. - after much insistence, irritation and finally begging and pleading on my part, toddler is still wide awake and mommy resorts to putting him in her bed and turning on the big screen tv. All hopes of mind-numbing, technicolor cartoons lulling toddler back to sleepy land are quickly forgotten faster than Britney Spears' underwear.

5:30 a.m. - drag tush downstairs to get said toddler refill on milk. Pass by office and realize you need to write up a custom listing, print out some fundraising stuff and of course search through the massive pile of clean, unfolded clothes for something to wear to the gym that won't frighten small children.

6:30 a.m. - snuggle back under covers only to have toddler attempt to pry your eyelids apart and shout "mama! mama! WAKE UP!"

7 a.m. - 8 a.m. - somewhat of a blur due to lack of sleep and coffee.

8:30 a.m. - attempt to dress a toddler who suddenly has formed an opinion about fashion. Nothing says Project Runway better than a stained monster truck green t-shirt, blue shorts and bright red lightning McQueen rubber boots.

8:45 a.m. - find two socks that can pass as matching and rush out to the car and wrestle toddler into car seat.

9 a.m. - discover that windshield wipers need replacing after finding they do more smearing than wiping.

9:25 a.m. - check toddler into child care at gym.

9:30 - 10:30 a.m. - proceed to get my ass kicked by Ms. Janice in kickboxing class. If anyone has found my lungs and stomach contents please return to the front desk at the gym.

10:35 a.m. - pick up toddler at child care and proceed to chase him around a wet parking lot. Apparently toddler has decided that mommy needs to get her heart rate back up by dodging moving vehicles.

11 a.m. - stop at coffee drive through for 24 oz drip for mom and 10 oz milk with straw for toddler.

11:01 a.m. - discover said toddler had decided that drinking from a straw is passe' and would rather dump said milk all over his clothes and seat belt.

11:10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. - work on fundraising merchandise pricing at Karen's house amid three screaming boys and all their noisy messy toys.

2:35 p.m. - drag crying screaming toddler out the door and head home

3 p.m. - arrive home to discover ninja kitty and her accomplices have broken into the trash and dragged discarded food items all over the living room floor and stairs.

3:35 p.m. - finish cleaning up mess and convince toddler using a Popsicle bribe.

3:40 p.m. - hide in office and check e-mails and other items.

4 p.m. - discover said toddler has decided to take a nap - an occurrence more rare than finding a picture of Paris Hilton fully clothed.

4:01 p.m. - mom uses nap time to take a quick shower and search for more clean clothes that aren't as wrinkled as Joan Rivers without botox.

4:30 p.m. - escape to knitting circle for a breather. Complete two rows of dress.

6 p.m. - grab a quick salad and then head to preschool for board meeting.

7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. - sit through board meeting discussing upcoming preschool year and everything that needs to be done.

10 p.m. - arrive home to hyper child and attempt to get brain to re solidify after being turned to mush from too much information.

10:45 p.m. - Finally convince toddler to snuggle up in my bed with cartoons.

11:15 p.m. - Toddler finally goes to sleep and mommy proceeds to attempt to check e-mails and finish other frustrating Moose Threads tasks amid ninja-kitties attacking from all sides.

11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. - attempt to update blog.

Needless to say me time and creative time don't really exist right now. But hopefully they will make an appearance soon.....hopefully.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm alive.... really

Hi everyone!

Well my poor shop on 1000 Markets and Etsy have sat for a while for a few reasons.

A) My husband is a submariner with the US Navy and recently just left on a patrol. Getting ready for a patrol is like trying to shove a hippo into a pair of technicolor tights. It's not fun and it just isn't a pretty process.
Trying to help your husband accumulate and pack the appropriate items for a long cruise amid what chaos a daddy-loving 3-year-old can produce is akin to poking my eyes out with twizzlers. It's slow and painful and not something I look forward to.

B) Amid all this craziness, my son - who has a severe speech delay - underwent a series of evaluations by both the Naval Hospital and the school district. Thank the Lord and his tie-dyed underpants because everything came out OK. It's a very scary feeling having your child evaluated for Autism and other issues.
He was deemed a bright yet quirky child and an appropriate preschool schedule and speech therapy plan was hatched.
I can't wait for the day my child does not turn the word Banana or Clap into something naughty. Nothing makes me want to run for cover more than my toddler screaming "PO-NANA!" in the middle of the grocery store. Add in a good "CRAP CRAP" instead of CLAP. Or "HOCKER" for HELICOPTER and you have yourself quite a good show.

C) Now this is a VERY good reason for having neglected my online store fronts. I've been filling custom applique orders for two different stores. One is based in Birmingham, AL and uses my designs as part of their clothing.
Another is a fellow friend and artisan who is redirecting her store to feature more custom pillows and shams.
While not millions of dollars both have kept me very busy and creatively challenged.

Amid all the craziness I have also decided to refocus Moose Threads toward strictly appliques or appliqued items. Over the past year or so I've begun to notice that the majority of my customers come to me for the applique itself and not necessarily the item it is on. This way my customers can choose the appliques purpose.
For example: One person commissioned 6 custom dragonflies based on a swatch of fabric. These dragonflies were then incoporated into a quilt design.
Another customer took an applique and sewed it onto a jean jacket, another a shirt and yet another a beach towel.

So after seeing where my customer base is I've begun stockpiling appliques and new designs with the plan of adding these items into my store over the next few weeks.

So stay tuned.....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Running away

I noticed the past two weeks that my self confidence had started to wane and that I hadn't visited my usual twice-weekly step class or Tuesday morning weight routine. I even found myself lagging during my session with my amazing trainer Janice.

Now if I'm not enjoying a session with Janice then something's wrong. She may be all of 5-feet nothing, but Janice is solid muscle and with more energy than the Roadrunner after a hit off a crack pipe. Even if your entire body felt like jello and your insides wanted to make a run for it out your eye sockets from sheer pain - Janice would still make you wanting more.

I was not myself.

It's been a stresseful few weeks as I have mentioned and I think that now that I've had a chance to slow down and take it all in, that my mind can't handle everything at once. When this happens I tend to fold back into myself and eat the pain away.

I found myself going for high-carb, high-sugar items that left me burned out and dead tired. I was living off drip coffee and zero water. The scale was sticking at 212 although just the week before I had hit a 5-pound loss reachin 210. I REFUSE TO HEAD BACK DOWN THE SLIPPERY SLOPE.

When I felt myself start to panic after a near run in with some people who in the past made me doubt myself and feel like an outsider - something I thought I was WAY past - I new I needed to find a way to grab hold of something and climb back out of this wave of depression.

So I've decided to do two things.

Return to writing
And return to running

Writing has always been my refuge and the best way for me to express myself. I used this blog heavily as my own form of therapy when talking just made me feel worse. And I could care less if people think I'm lame, or people think I'm whiney or people just think I'm plain nuts. If they dont' like what I have to write about don't read it.

I think a lot of my newfound anxiety is being triggered by the fact that we are appraochign the 1-year mark of my first real anxiety attack and first real experience with feeling lost in this world. It is a very deperate feeling to not know who your friends are or who you can trust. It's like being dropped into a pool of crazy glue where you feel stuck and unable to free yourself from the pain.

I'm finding myself sticking my neck out there again and I'm waiting with eyes squeezed shut and breathe held for the axe to fall. The HAHA we got you SUCKER!

It was right after my first anxiety attack that my friend Karen pushed me to start running with her as a way to not only help me cope but as a way for her to train for triatholons. I found running difficult, but very freeing. Though I was a slow runner, I used that time to sort things out in my head. It gave me a goal to push for and something to look forward to. It was me and the clock and no one else.

The more I ran the better I began to feel and I even lost a few pounds along the way - until I injured my shins. Not being able to challenge myself left me a little lost. Over the next fall and winter I gained 25 pounds and hit my highest weight ever. I was busting out of a size 16 and teetering at 215 on my 5 foot 3 inch frame. My back hurt and all I wanted was to sleep all day.

A trip home to visit family only hammered a few extra nails into coffin for my slowly dying self esteem.

Enter Karen again.

Upon arriving home she whipped out the new race schedule and motivated me to get back to the gym. This time I hired a personal trainer who not only knew my struggles but really pushed me to better myself.

The first 5k I did was tough and I came in second from last at a measly 44:40. Little did I know I was running in the wrong pair of shoes and slowly destroying my heels and shins. The second 5k a few weeks later I came in even slower at 50 minutes. With shin pain so severe I was forced to walk the majority of the race, again coming in second from last. I felt a bit like a centipede who was born with all left feet.

Though devestated Karen and our friend Kristen reminded me that what mattered was I finished.

The next weekend after a pow-wow with Janice and Deb - my step instructor - Robert took me to Poulsbo Running to get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes. The difference was amazing and It was sheer torture to forgo running for a month while my shins healed. In the meantime Janice and Deb pushed me through thier own versions of cardio and resistance hell in an effort to repair my shot muscles and build up my strength.

I wasn't sure if any of it was working until tonight when after thinking too much about last year and starting to feel the hurt and sadness well up I found myself reaching for the junk food.

It was late, the kiddo was asleep but I couldn't turn off my brain.

So I decided to try an experiment.

I laced up my running shoes and hopped on the treadmill. It was awkward at first but I managed to pump out 2.3 miles in 35 mintues. I alternated walking with 1 minute sprints. It was tough but I felt more alive and that I was doing something with my grief.

Hopefully this time when I run away from stupid people and situations I'll hit my stride and leave them in the dust.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life's lovely speed bumps

The past few weeks or so I have felt my depression attempting to grasp for a firmer hold on my life.

The social awkwardness has begun to set in again - where I feel like I don't really fit in and am only along as a gesture of goodwill or someones inability to get rid of me.

I feel like my mouth and my brain aren't running at the same pace, thus putting me in some strange situations. Imagine my brain is Shamu attempting to run a marathon, while my mouth is the Roadrunner taking on a 5k race in a motorized scooter.

Not good.

We have officially gotten one week of patrol out of the way and it hasn't come without the typical Murphy aspects that usually latch on to me faster than a Laguna Beach reject latches onto a pseudo-reality show.

Day 1, my cat decided to have my record player take a nosedive from a very tall shelf. Since most of my collection is on vinyl, needless to say I wasn't too happy.

Day 2, I walked into an appt. with a pediatric developmental specialist for my son, under the guise it was for hyperactivity. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It was in fact a screening for Autism and Autism Spectrum.

Talk about feeling as though you went to the plastic surgeon asking to look like Angelina Jolie and woke up looking more like Brad Pitts ugly sister with the lazy eye.

Nothing can prepare you to hear the word Autism in reference to your child.

Thankfully, he is fine and there was no diagnosis, but it has left me questioning my faith in the care we have been receiving through the Navy.

Day 3, Robert's mom informed me that their beloved family dog died. Talk about losing a member of the family. Abby was not just a dog, but a wonderdog. Her best friend was the family cat and her ability to herd David around the house was in fact better than my own.

Thankfully there have been a few bright spots along the way.

David gave up the binky and we are successful done with that aspect of his life.
He also have begun to potty train again with some success.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to shake this cloud of doubt that is trying to swallow me up. I don't want to go down that road again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Inspiration and motivation

Every crafter has one.

For some it receives no more than a curious nod or casual glance.

For others it can draw an "Oh wow" or "Yikes" from those who see it.

But for the rare few - such as myself - a crafter's "STASH" can result in the following.....

"OMG! Do you think Jimmy Hoffa is buried in there?"
"What did you do, knock over a JoAnns?"

Or my favorite.

"If yarn were crack you'd never make it out of rehab."

As you can see from the pictures, I'm not hurting for supplies.

HOWEVER, what I am lacking is inspiration.

When it comes to crochet projects I'm often like a hyperactive hamster with short term memory loss.

At the store I have all these idea running through my head, thus resulting in purchasing enough yarn to provide King Tut with a new technicolor wrap job.
But once I get home and the yarn gets sorted into the correct color-coded bin it often gets lost or forgotten about.

I can not tell you the number of times I have bought the same skein of yarn because I forgot I had already purchased it.

So after some careful thought, some prodding from my husband ...and well.... nearly losing a cat amid the chaos... I made a promise to myself that unless it was a custom order for a client, I would only make projects from my stash.

And so far I can say it's better than Christmas. I'm discovering things I completely forgot I had -or even better - finding uses for yarn I purchased for no reason.

In February I was asked to donate a sweater to a local silent auction. As soon as the words left my friends mouth my eyes glazed over, I started to twitch and my friend realized she had just given the addict a reason to visit her local crack den "aka yarn store."

"WAIT!" she practically screamed while pulling my back from my yarntastic fantasy.

"I will only let you use what you already have."

Darn. I forgot I had friends actually committed to helping me stay fiber-free.

After some moping and some chocolate to dull the pain of a yarn store trip foiled, I began to dig amid the bins and boxes.

I discovered a bulk skein of chunky turquoise acrylic purchased on sale nearly two years ago. It was soft and cushy and slightly inspired I set it aside and began to dig further into the depths of my stash.

I found a bright hot pink skein bought during a brief flirtation with reliving my 80's glam days.
And then i discovered a piercing skein of purple.

Paired with the turquoise they somehow managed to tone each other down.

A small remnant of bright green and some sunflower buttons I found shoved in a forgotten bin and TADA! I was inspired.

Not only did I manage to use up most of the turquoise skein but it's texture prompted me to attempt a new cardigan design.

My next "stash" project initially started with my idea to make a blanket for my friend's daughter.

Being that she is a bright and fun little girl I started looking through my stash for anything that reminded me of the recipient.

Way in the back, behind some boxes I discovered BAGS of this TLC Wiggles yarn. It's an acrylic yarn that sports these crazy loops made from tightly wound colored thread.

I had multiple skeins of it in nearly every color of the rainbow and just new using the right stitch I could crochet up a fun blanket. As for why I had so much I have no idea.

After some thought I decided to pair it with some white worsted acrylic I again had in a 16oz skein.

The end result, which used a slanted shell stitch was not only cushy but one that I loved so much I'm ashamed to say I have yet to give to the intended person.

I'm debating on making a second one for my store, but that's only if I don't get distracted by yet another project inspired by my stash.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Awwwwww Toddlers.....

Below you will see why it is NEVER ok to leave your 3 -year-old alone with your pets.

Not quite sure what that is?

Not it's not a gaping bleeding wound but something much worse in my opinion since ZZ is covered in fur.

It's Berry flavored gel toothpaste.


Apparently David felt that ZZ's coat needed a bit of freshening up and thus attempted to style her hair for her.

Did I mention that she just sat there the entire time LETTING him do this?

I know my cats are pretty docile but I didn't realize they were so docile they made Rip Van Winkle look like a hyperactive hamster.

So far I attempted to use baby wipes to clean up the mess only to end up making ZZ look as though she decided to become a part of the punk scene.

I can't believe I'm about to google - toothpaste and cat fur.....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Proof that one should only run when chased....

It's that time of year again when the 5K's start happening every weekend and I get it in my head that this will be THE YEAR that I will finally lose that weight and be healthy. ever faithful friend Karen agreed to run the St. Patricks Day 5K located in one of the Naval housing communities, down by the water.

It was to be my first 5K in nearly 8 months and in those 8 months I had put on about 20 pounds thus topping 200. Though I'd been doing cardio in the form of step classes, I new that there was no way I was even going to come close to finishing in less than my slowest time of last year - 43 minutes.

Despite all this I was feeling pretty excited about our race.....until I woke up that morning to crazy winds and freezing rain.

I texted Karen at 7 a.m. asking her if she'd looked outside. I was secretly hoping she'd want to cancel.


We'd paid our race fee - we were going.

Can you see why I picked her as my workout buddy? She's good at keeping me motivated.

We get out there and it's so cold that whatever nipply bits I did have received frostbite. It was all we could do to not flee to the car while we waited for them to start the race.

The 1 mile and the 5K started at the same time, with the milers veering off into a different direction at the half-mile point.

With my legs feeling like frozen blocks and my feet soaked from the rain, it was all I could do to keep moving. And it was all I could do to stay motivated after I realized a friggin 3 YEAR OLD - YES - 3 YEAR OLD had beaten me to the half-mile spot.

About halfway through I realized I was getting lapped..... then a little after that I realized that I was dead last...then it started to hail.

Did I mention that despite all this I was actually ahead of my normal pace?

Finally toward the end I hit a nice downhill section and realized that I might actually be able to come in under 43 minutes. The finish line was in site, I was hurting but also feeling hopeful......UNTIL.... I SAW..... THE HILL.

Yep, they had a friggin steep hill that I had to haul my chubtastic carcass up in order to complete the final .3 miles of the race.

Let's just say I hit the wall.

I felt a little defeated and it was all I could do to keep walking.

But then I heard someone running behind me and discovered Karen - who had already finished the race - had joined me to help push me through the last .2 miles.

She ran side by side with me, keeping me from giving up and pushing me almost to the point of hurling, across the finish line at a time of 44:40.

It was a humbling experience but also proved to me that I not only have the coolest friend ever but that I can do this and it will get better.

Hopefully a few pounds will come off betweent his race and the next one I'm training for.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Every Little Bit Counts

I received an order for 8 appliques yesterday from the boutique place I have been working with.

It's only about a $30 order but I'm excited. When you think about it, a few of those a month really start to add up after a while. It's money to be saved later for emergencies or necessities.

Sometimes I get down on myself because my stats aren't in the 100's for sales, but I have to remind myself how much I sell locally as well. Word of mouth is an amazing thing.

And in today's economy a sale is a sale - no matter how big or small.

I need to stop beating myself up and be arrogant for once. I'm a pretty damn good crocheter and I'm not going to let anyone else make me feel as though I'm not.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Living the crazy life

It's been a crazy week back since our trip to CA.

The house is slowing coming back together and I think I'm winning the fight against the ever encroaching army of laundry.

I started back at the gym and was crazy enough to subject myself to the extreme embarrassment and insane intensity of an advanced step class.

Did I mention that I barely have rhythm?

Toss in a plastic step, fast music and difficult choreography and you'll find I resemble a hyperactive hamster with four left feet.

I'm determined to lose weight this time. I need to find some part of my former self that I know is in there somewhere.

I still have a lot of down days and I still am trying to find a place where I fit in socially, but I'm learning who my true friends are and that's what counts. To me friends of the heart are way better than friends of the face. Basically, people who truly care about you vs. those who just put on a mask and pretend to like you in public.

On the Moose Threads front I haven't really been working on any new designs. I'm a little burnt out.

I'm finishing up a sub hat and scarf set for a friend and I received notice that I'm to expect a large applique order sometime next week from the boutique place.

In the meantime I've been attempting to organize and catalog my insane yarn stash. Every few months I have to basically do what any business does - inventory.

I have to note what I've used up, what new yarns I've received - and arrange them in storage bins that make it easy for me to find what I need.

Since I haven't done this in a long time, all the closets in my house look as though Sully from Monsters Inc. lost his cookies in them. It's a technicolor, yarntastic mess.

On a more exciting note the trip to CA made me realize how dependant I am on good the Internet to run my business.

With a shop on ETSY, one on 1000 markets and a lot of e-mail interaction with customers I was shocked at how much I missed when I didn't check up on things for just two days.

Now that I'm working with other businesses in terms of my appliques etc, I really needed to be on the ball.

So I sucked it up and used a portion of the Moose Threads profits I'd been stashing away for the past 6 months and bought a 3G iPhone.

I needed something that had wi-fi and true Internet access. Something I could take, edit and e-mail photos with. Something I could use to answer e-mails and convos.

I've only had it for two days and already I'm in love. I'm finding I'm more efficient with things and I'm not holed up in the office chained to the desktop. It even came in handy entertaining my husband during our 30 minute wait for dinner last night. ESPN at your fingertips!

It was more money than I would have liked to spend on a phone and accessories but I think it was well worth it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What a difference a dosage change makes

For almost a month I had been so lethargic I could literally sleep the entire day and not feel rested.

My depression felt like it was back in full force. I was hot. I was cold and I just overall felt worse than a diver on the receiving end of a massive whale fart.

It wasn't until my mom reminded me that all my symptoms always show up when my thyroid meds are off that decided to get them checked.

Turns out my levels were so out of whack that my doctor had to raise me up to 250 micrograms. This was the dose I was on while pregnant and landed me in complicated OB due to the high dosage.

I started taking the meds two weeks ago and I'm religious about them. My husband has also been great about reminding me since I have to take them on an empty stomach.

All I can say is I can feel a change. I'm not tired, I'm feeling a bit brighter about things and my hot flashes have settled down.

Now all I have to do is get some of this 210 pounds I'm carrying around off my heiney.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rockets, requests and randomness

We've been on vacation in California for the past two weeks.

When your husband is in the military your vacations tend to consist of trekking to visit family during random times of the year.

This time we decided on making a 15-hour drive with toddler in tow, across mountain passes and busy freeways. Crazily enough we made the trip in one day without any complaints from our toddler and without a DVD player. A few new toy planes and cars were plenty of bribery it turns out.

After our first stop to visit family I was reminded of just exactly why we moved two states away.

Constant snide comments about my weight and about my parenting skills - or lack there of- were too much to take.

When a certain loved one told me to "Do myself a favor and not have anymore children for I'm ruining the one I already have" I felt like I'd been decked by a Jenny Craig dropout going through cupcake withdrawals.

In the meantime, though Moose Threads was technically on vacation I was deftly attempting to fill some custom orders out of courtesy despite having limited access to the yarn supplies I needed. At what point does one draw the line on customer service?

I'm surprised my head hasn't spun off my neck and landed in the pile of donkey dung that apparently I'm constantly stepping in in terms of my life.

Needless to say I'm looking forward to returning to WA.

On a good note, I did manage to finish a new sweater design that at the moment is intended for my soon-to-be-three-year-old toddler. He's obsessed with rockets at the moment.

This pullover is made from Cascade 220, a hand wash Peruvian wool I had in my stash. I created a rocket applique and tried something new in terms of my flight trail trademark. A matching hat created the ensemble.

I'd love to hear what you think of this new item.

On another note, I was given the challenge of creating a Thomas the Train applique by a dear fellow Homefronter. This is my best attempt. My husband was impressed... my toddler was screaming "Thomas, Thomas" and tried to run off with it... but my picky self doesn't know what to think.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Applique Extravaganza!

So the children's boutique clothing business that commissioned the other appliques put in an order for some more, only mini versions.

I was excited to attempt to shrink some of my designs and was more than pleased with the results.

The initial order was for three starfish - shrunk to 4 inches wide. And a submarine of the same dimensions.

As I was completing this order they came to me with a challenge.

They were having some issues getting what they needed from another vendor, and would it be possible for me to mimic a sailboat that was depicted on a fabric sample. They needed the sailboat to be within a 3 -3 1/2 inch range. They apologized for the short notice, but said they were thrilled with my work and my quick turnaround.

I was more than thrilled to take up this challenge and within an hour came up with a sailboat applique.

They loved the prototype and immediately ordered three.

Barely 24 hours after this order they again came to me with another situation. Yet another vendor was unable to fill their request for a princess crown applique and could I work on a prototype.

All I can say is I'm having a blast and I hope this keeps up!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sweating a New Sweater Design

So a very good friend of mine asked if I would make a cardigan for a school auction fundraiser.

Being that her daughter is not only my model and that my friend takes a lot of my pictures I was more than happy to return the favor.

She told me to use yarn from my "crack" stash and so after hunting around I found this chunky turquoise yarn that comes by the pound. I loved the color and was quickly inspired.


The yarn texture was just not working with my typical cardigan pattern. After frogging the thing about 5 times, I decided to try something new. I took my basic pullover pattern and split the front. I decreased earlier to create a v-neck and prayed that once all my finishing was complete the final product would be ok. It was a lot of trial and error to get it right.

It was a lot of work - a lot more hours than I ever intended to spend on a sweater I was literally donating - but I am giddy with excitement over this new design. Though I do need to find a way to streamline the seaming.

The stitch pattern worked great for the bulky yarn, The edging turned out wonderful and I was able to make button holes rather than have to sew on snaps. I was finally able to break out these sunflower buttons I'd been hoarding for the past two years.

The downside was this sweater not only required a lot of finishing but it also used A LOT of yarn. The skein was over 600 yards and I used almost all of it. I have just enough left over for a matching beanie.

What do you think?

Is it worth offering as a custom-made-upon-order item in my shop?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feeling a bit better

I got a few hours of sleep after taking a very hot shower around 4:30 a.m.

My wonderful husband not only did all the dishes but cleaned up the living room and took our toddler out for the day.

I am in comfy jammies. Took some sudafed for my congestion and now am drinking hot tea.

I'm not feeling so bad about life anymore at this moment. Lets hope I can make this feeling last at least for a little while.

Turned around and upsidedown

So this messed up sleep schedule is driving me nuts.

I fell asleep this morning while the kiddo was watching a movie. I was on the couch and he was happily rolling hotwheels up and down my legs and shoving pretzels into my nose and mouth. It was about as comfortable as using hedge clippers to shave my armpits.

I then managed to get myself together long enough for us to go run some errands as a family and attempt to eat at our favorite Friday night spot Tizley's Europub.

It figured that as soon as we got there David started saying he wanted to go "Nigh Nigh"

He was a bit wiggly, a little loud and a lot frustrating, but we managed to wolf down our food. The hubby then took the kicking and screaming alien pod child to the car while I paid the check.

As I was sitting there all alone waiting for my receipt, I found myself having a tough time holding it together. Lately, I've felt more defeated in the parenting department than a dog whose discovered he can no longer lick his own beans.

It didn't help that upon arriving home, my husband put the kiddo to bed only to find me passed out on the couch with all three cats. This was at 6 p.m. I woke up at midnight and I have yet to go back to sleep - 3:30 a.m.

The past few months I have not been able to get a hold on any form of a normal schedule.

Exercise is a figment of the imagination.

Recent blood tests have revealed not only my cholesterol is high but that my Hashimotos is rearing it's ugly head again to the point they need to raise my dosage back up to where I was when I was pregnant. I'm falling apart.

Take this and add it to the fact that I'm currently searching for other preschool options for the kiddo just in case is making me nuttier than a bunch of drag queens in a thong competition. I'm starting to come to the scary realization that perhaps I will never find anywhere that I feel comfortable or not socialy inept. I think I might have to go join a nunnary.

I just want to be able to buy a ticket back to the land of normal, only I'm out of cash and out of fight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What goes up....

Must come down.

I've noticed I've had a major setback in terms of getting a handle on my depression lately.
I'm getting that anxious feeling again.
The kind where I feel like I don't belong and that all I do is get in everyone's way.
I'm crying a lot more and I'm not sleeping again. I'm unmotivated and it's killing me.

It leaves me feeling socially inept and as though I'm talked down to or seen as an overemotional idiot.

It leave me feeling like an outsider and it tears me up inside.

I can not tell you how horrible a feeling it is to think something is wrong with you to the point you feel as though you will never fit in. That you ARE the problem.

I do have to admit that I've been lucky to find some really great friends during this journey who no matter what they are people I can hang out with and talk to. They don't exclude me and they most of all just really get me.

But I also don't want to be a burden to them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You say I'm a bitch like it's a bad thing.....

Holy Howler Monkeys!

I don't know what side of the bed I woke up on today but it wasn't the right one.

I am just in one of those moods, as though PMS roared her ugly head and stuffed my sweet personality in the back of the closet along with the rest of my once healthy body.

I am a pod person at it's worst.

Even the triple-shot vanilla carmel latte my adorable husband surprised me with hasn't helped.

Got any ideas?

Monday, January 19, 2009

And I'm doing this because......

It's been a frustrating few days.

All weekend the hubby and I have been attempting to decrap, sweep, mop, vaccuum, straighten etc the house.

Partialy because it needs some tidying after being negelected during the holiday season, but also because I was dumb enough to host a lunch thingymajiggy for a group that I'm really not a part of nor am sure if I want to remain a part of.
I'm not exactly number one on the popularity and invitation list anyway.

Don't get me wrong, the people who have RSVP'd I am excited to see and thankfully are people who know I am not a domestic goddess.
If I had to choose between mopping the floors or poking out my eyeballs with one of my son's hot wheels I'd say Vroom Vroom.
Cleaning with a toddler in tow is even worse. I liken it to attempting to put a diaper on a wolverine. Dumb idea to begin with that leaves you worse than where you started.

It's the unknowns (non rsvp-ers) however, who I find I'm cleaning like such a madwoman for. You know, those that you don't really know and aren't really sure if they are going to come, much less be as laid back as you are about the state of your bathtub or kitchen sink.

Scarliy enough I know people in real life who think that if a person's baseboards or refrigerator seal are not pristine then they are a lousy housekeeper. They even get an ego-inflating high from this.

Looks like I need to fill up that helium tank because as far as I'm concerned the cleaning lady has just been given a fully paid vacation to Mexico - indefinitely.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A little bit of why

As an Etsian (Etsy)who moonlights as a Hyena (Hyena Cart) I've begun to realize that I'm pretty lax when it comes to promoting my business.

For example right now I have about 10 new items to list, but have yet to take decent pictures. It's not that I don't have time to do it, it's more that I just am not in any hurry.

I can use Twitter to my hearts content to post and new items or promotions. I can chat it up in the forums or chat rooms until I'm blue in the face. But honestly the idea of doing these things, just in the "hopes" of getting a sale makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a pack of twizzlers.

Yes, the more people that see you can then notice your products, but honestly, people either like what you do or move on past. I get enough business to keep me busy and content. But most of all I don't want to become the type of business that I personally hate.

The biggest way to turn me off is to shout SALE SALE SALE.... LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME. It reminds me of the little attention hog know-it-all kid from elementary school. I want to be a business that makes you feel at home and well-listened too. Posting and running is not my thing.

I don't intend to insult anyone who takes this approach because it can very well work for them. I just want to explain why it doesn't work for me.

You probably will never find my blog page filled with listings or treasuries, promo spots or anything to really do with pushing traffic to my shop. That's just not me.

Yes, I do occassionally write about new designs I've fiddled with or new ideas, but for the most part my blog is more a way to keep me sane. It lets me get my odd sense of humor out in the open. It lets me blow off steam so that I'm not so agitated I can't create.

I always promised myself when I started Moose Threads that I would keep it fun and as long as I can keep it that way I'm happy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When "Good" Ideas Go Bad

Confessions of an insomniac crocheter

Though my toddler has resumed a normal sleep schedule I have not.

For some reason willing my body to sleep before 4 a.m. has become a bit like trying to shove a squirrel into a beer bottle - if it actually happened it would be a miracle - and quite funny to boot.

So to bide my time during my unfortunate sleep situation I've been messing around with different hat ideas.

Unfortunatly, tonight I decided to take inspiration from The Real Housewives of Orange County. Why oh why did I end up watching an episode featuring cooking and big, floppy and loud hats? Not a good combination.

Because somewhere in the middle of watching catfights, sloppy drunk blondes and 40-year-old plus women pretending that fake boobs and botox was hotter than a redhead mistaking liquid heat for lube, I came up with this hideaous hat design.

Oh wait it gets better. Take a look at the side view.

All I can think of when I see this is the result of what would happen if Tim Gunn decided to make over the Swedish Chef.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amazing Appliques

Well, at least I think they are.

So here is that custom order I've been working on. I must admit - apart from the dragonflies - these are perhaps the best I've ever done them.

The reason I'm not happy with the dragonflies is that the only medium pink acrylic yarn I could find at the time was Vanna White's Choice. Yeah - it sucks.

So onto the show and tell.

Here are all eight items

Now here are the dragonflies up close. See how the yarn just doesn't have the pizazz that my other ones had?

The butterflies on the other hand, I decided to try sewing the wings to the back of the belly to create a bit of a two-dimensional effect. I think they turned out great.

The starfish I was so happy with. They remind me of the Carl's Jr. logo from when I was a kid.

And lastly my good ol' submarines.

Granted I have made my own fleet over the past year with custom orders but with this request I think I finally perfected the shape.

Crochet Conundrum

Ok well, I wouldn't really call my situation a conundrum as much as a "Holy Chicken Tenders! I have Moose Threads orders!" celebration.

After a disasterous holiday season paired with the idiocracy of the CPSIA's new standards for lead testing and children's items, I was contemplating putting the Moose to bed.

I was even more discouraged knowing that a "J" month was fast approachging and ask anyone on ETSY... "J" months are the worst for sales. I'm not sure what it is about that letter that causes people to snap their wallets closed faster than Britney Spears can ...hers... but it's a real confidence killer.

Only once 2009 officially arrived so did the sales.

It started with a request from an amazing friend of mine - Ms. Jessica - who asked me to created 6 dragonfly appliques around a piece of fabric.

I'll leave it up to her to let you know what she did with them, but you can bet the end result will knock your socks off! If anyone knows how to use color it's her.

Below is a pic of the little buggers.

The next order was from probably the best publicist a girl can have. Not only did my friend Christine help get Moose Threads off the ground, but she is awesome in terms of advertising my products. Why?

Well besides having the skill to sell ice to a snowman, Christine is my photographer, model booker and advertiser. She just rocks!

So after garnering quite a few items for her daughters closet from Moose Threads, Christine place an order for a scarf and hat set complete with submarine details for her son.

She also ordered a butterfly sweater and hat set for an auction fundraiser.

Next came a beanie order from a parent at my son's preschool. This one was unexpected but made me realize that wearing my own designs IS a good idea. I was having a bad hair day, so I shoved a new beanie design on my head that at the time I hadn't decided if I wanted to list. Within two minutes of walking up the school steps I was being asked:

1: If I made the hat
2: Did I have more of those colors
3: Could she pay me to make her one.

It only got better.

I arrived home that day to an Etsy convo from someone interested in my appliques.
They wanted to order 8 applique samples for a Trunk Show they were having for thier children's boutique.
The appliques were going to be affixed to different products and if people liked what they saw, I would potentially be receiving as many as 70- plus applique orders at a time.

At first I thought it was a joke or from someone looking for free items. But after a bit of convoing back and forth and a purchase of all 8 appliques at full price, I finally allowed myself to be excited.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed things will continue like this.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why toddlers don't make good sleep aids

It's 1 fricking A.M. and I'm still awake.


Because my adorable toddler has somehow in the past month decided that naptimes are best suited for 7:30 - 10 p.m with partytime slated for 10 p.m. to sometimes 3 a.m.


That coupled with the fact he's OBSESSED with WALL-E I just may pack my bags and run away.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

When Moose can't get Loose


This is going to be a very long post with a lot of horrible pictures featuring my best impression of Cindy Crawford in her lost bon bon years.

Note the circles under my eyes from lack of sleep and the fact I'm looking a bit crosseyed in an attempt to not flip out on my husband and toddler who were "assisting" me with what I've deemed the "Chipmunk Couture" photo session.

Though the pictures aren't great, I wanted to at least show everyone what I'd been working on during our wonderful snowed-in adventure.

It had been a long time since I've really felt inspired to dig through my stash and let the yarn "speak" to me per se.

I'd started putting everyone and everything else first the past few months that I'd stop creating.

Lack of Moose Threads sales this winter season had not only hurt my wallet, but my heart. I really contemplated just giving it all up.
I was tired of people assuming I'd let them pay either nothing or next to nothing for my designs.
Or saying they wanted to order something (every time they saw me) only for it to never happen.
Or my favorite - being told my items would best be suited for the consignment/thrift store - just because they were crocheted.

Yeah, my creative side has really taken some hits the past few months.

But then a conversation with my Sicilian, tell-it-like-it is grandma - one of the women who taught me to crochet - helped me recover.

"You need to start making things for yourself again," she said.
"You've been so caught up in making things for other people or with the hope that other people will like or buy them, that you've stopped putting yourself into them. You've forgotten why you started making things in the first place."

That was it.
I was forgot how fun crochet can be.
I forgot how exciting it is to put odd colors together or to manipulate the yarn to make an impossible shape.
I forgot to just be me.

So on with the fashion show

This first picture is one of two scarf and hat sets that I created by taking two completely different colorways of Noro Sock Yarn and doubling them up. I used an offset shell pattern to add texture to the yarn, which I found self-striped in very unexpected and exciting way.

Each skein of yarn held about 400 yards and cost around $22 each. They had been sitting in my closet for nearly a year.

Next is the second set I made. This set I've opted to keep for myself and have had many a stranger walk up to me, grab it and marvel over the colors and pattern. Some were even shocked to find out it was crocheted.

This scarf is made of just basic acrylic yarn that I had been hoarding for YEARS. Though not the biggest fan of acrylic I've found it's can often yeild unexpected and wonderful surprises if the right pattern is used.

I first started with the varigated skein featuring colors of a fall harvest. I rooted around in my stash until I found a bright orange left over from another project, a random skein of white and lastly I chose the brick red to help bring out some of the deeper colors of the variagted yarn.

At first I wasn't sure how well they'd play out when looking at the skeins all lined up.
I grew even more frustrated with my choices after trying everything from a basic striped pattern to a complicated checkered pattern.

Somehow they just didn't work.

Then I remembered this diamond stitch I had used for an afgan over a year ago.
I made up a swatch and loved it. The colors popped to me and even my husband said it was great.

It's hard to tell from these pictures, but I guarantee that once you see a photo of this scarf taken in natural light you'll love it.

This next scarf was my first attempt at felting.
I had done an interview for a freelance assignment with a local spinner and yarn maker Heidi Parra. She had these wonderful skeins of yarn all dyed by a friend of hers.

They were a bit scratchy but was assured they'd felt up nice and soft.

The turquoise and green were a fingering weight while the grey and purple were worsted.

I made a basic stripe pattern, deciding to leave the ends out to provide a wacky all-over fringe.

The result was better than I could have imagined.

Upon felting, the turquoise and green yarns pulled in tight,creating a wonderful wavy pattern. The ends I thought added a fun texture and overall the scarf was nice and soft.

I still haven't decided if I want to keep this one for myself or not. I have enough yarn left over to make a second one.

During my snowy confinement I decided to create something for my adorable nephew Xavier. He is in love with dinosaurs, so I wanted to make something special.

After rooting around in my stash again, I came up with some skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn a friend had given me a while back. Though not a fan of the Red Heart, I knew it at least would wash up well and hold up to most toddler escapades.

I wanted a stitch that would provide a bit of texture without being too bulky. I discovered a simple single crochet - chain one combination worked quite well.

I made the dino as an applique and sewed it onto the front of the sweater before assembling all the pieces. The result was something Xavier loved and refused to take off.

Finally, my last new design was this beanie.

Using the leftover brown from the dino sweater and discovering some Red Heart Super Saver in a light turquoise buried in the closet, I combined the two in such a way that would not only highlight the crossover stitch I had used, but also each color.

See I told you this would be long.

If you made this far I applaud you and thank you. I'd love to hear what you think. Good or bad.