My Fourth Blogiversary

On each blogiversary, it is customary for me to reflect on the past year and consider what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. In 2008, I set a number of specific goals for knitting, spinning, and cooking/baking. I have re-written them in italics below, along with a mini-review of how I did.

1. Finish Chevron Scarf (in progress since October 2007)
Done – blogged about it here!
2. Finish Central Park Hoodie (in progress since August 2007)
Done — blogged about it here!
3. Finish Wicked Sweater (in progress since August 2007)
Nope. Frogged it and destashed the yarn. I just wasn’t feeling this one.
4. Knit Juno Regina (gift)
Nope. Never started on it, and destashed the yarn. I am seriously not a lace knitter.
5. Knit another Clapotis (gift)
Done! This one was for my friend Carolyn, and I made one for myself as well.
6. Knit at least one pair of socks (gift)
Yup! I knit two pairs for my sister. I also knit two pairs for myself.

Completed Knitting Projects from 2008

Spin. At least a little. Once in awhile.
No, there was no spinning at all last year. In fact, right before Christmas I sold my Lendrum. I had to admit that I am not a spinner.

Try at least one new recipe per month.

New Recipes Tried in 2008

I was quite successful with this goal! The only month I skipped was October, but in some months I experimented with several new recipes. I will admit that there were times when I only tried something new because I needed to meet my monthly goal, but I don’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. Here are all my posts about the new recipes I tried. My favorites (i.e., the ones I will totally make again and again) are definitely the enchiladas (November), the Pumpkin Bread (also November), and the Mexican Wedding Cookies (April).

January 2008
Sausage, Cheese, and Basil Lasagna
Coco-Nana Bread

February 2008
Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies

March 2008
(Chocolate) Cream Cheese Cookies
Rosemary Beef Skewers
Chicken Marsala

April 2008
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce

May 2008
French Dip Sandwich

June 2008
Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry

July 2008
Creamy Lemon Squares

August 2008
Farfalle with Zucchini

September 2008
Sirloin Steaks with Mushroom Sauce

October 2008

November 2008
Artichoke Soup
Rocky Road Brownies
Beef Stroganoff
Pumpkin Bread

December 2008
Baked Ziti with Spinach and Tomatoes
“Real” Oatmeal

What’s next for 2009? I’ve been mulling over this, and the only goal I want to carry over from last year is to continue trying at one new recipe each month. I really liked doing that last year and felt that I pushed myself a bit. Sadly, I don’t have specific goals for my knitting…I am just going with whatever I feel like knitting. Maybe the best goal for me right now is to continue enjoying it?


Feeling Content

I experience ups and downs with my crafting. There are times when I feel completely blah about my projects and my knitting only surfaces when I have absolutely nothing else to do.

John B. Socks

Then there are the happier periods, like right now, when I am excited about my knitting and moving through projects at a good pace. At the same time, I am also eagerly trying new cooking and baking recipes. Successfully striking that delicate balance between my hobbies feels really good. I doubt I’ll be able to sustain that balance indefinitely, but I am trying my best to enjoy it while it lasts.

Logwood Socks In Progress

One big change I made recently was deciding to be content with my yarn stash. I have quite a bit of yarn, yet I continue to add to it regularly. I’ll come across a neat pattern and buy the yarn for it, but I know it won’t be knitted up for quite awhile because I don’t knit as fast as I buy yarn. When I got overwhelmed with my stash in the past, I destashed, but the thing is, I really like everything in my current stash and I don’t want to part with any of it. So at the end of March, I committed to a six-month yarn diet. I’ve gone on one or two shorter diets before, and I remember them as times of deprivation. Like, when is the diet over so I can buy yarn again? But this time feels different to me — instead of viewing it as not getting to do something I like, I see it as a great opportunity to finally knit the awesome yarns I have. The end result is the same, but the approach is making all the difference. I set it for six months, but I am curious about how long I can actually go and how much of my stash I will use.

To kick off this commitment, I am running a small contest. All you have to do is guess the number of unused balls of yarn in my stash. The winner is the person who guesses the right number (or closest to it); if multiple people guess correctly I will use a random number generator to select the winner. And no, my stash is not listed on Ravelry. The prize? A brand new copy of Hats, Mittens, and Scarves by Andrea Tung. My friend Joyce kindly gifted me with a copy months ago, and the second copy I received on the Stitch ‘n Ride train needs a new home. Contest ends when the comments close on Saturday morning.


Year in Review

Today is my third blogging anniversary, and the tradition for me on this day is to reflect on the past year.  After my first year of blogging, I wrote about the many roles of knitting in my life, how blogging connected me to inspiring individuals, and my excitement at exploring the craft of spinning. Overall, I was excited about the fiber arts and eager to see what would unfold in the coming months. Last year, my reflection was noticeably less optimistic — I was disappointed in myself because I felt that I was all over the place with my crafting and didn’t excel at any one thing.  I felt lost with my crafting.

If I had to describe my feelings about the past year in one word, it would be content. This was the year that I switched over from “Knot Without My Knitting” to “Knitter in the Kitchen,” which more accurately expresses my interests in knitting, cooking, and baking.  I seem to have settled on these crafts as my primary hobbies and I am quite happy with them.  I finally let myself feel okay when I preferred one over the others.  Instead of viewing them as competing interests for my time, I am now perfectly comfortable cycling through them in accordance to what I am currently interested in doing.  It’s okay for certain hobbies to be on the back burner for awhile; I no longer feel guilty for ignoring my baking because I am focusing on knitting, or vice versa.  I am still making progress.  In essence, the change this year occurred in my perspective. 

Last year I wasn’t ready at all to set goals for 2007, which bothered me because I am a goal-oriented person.  This year, I have some loose goals for 2008.

–Finish Chevron Scarf (in progress since October 2007)
–Finish Central Park Hoodie (in progress since August 2007)
–Finish Wicked Sweater (in progress since August 2007)
–Knit Juno Regina (gift)
–Knit another Clapotis (gift)
–Knit at least one pair of socks (gift)

Spin.  At least a little.  Once in awhile.

Try at least one new recipe per month.

As you can see, I am trying to keep it simple in order to keep it fun.  We’ll see how I do this year!

Year in Review

Today is my two-year blogging anniversary. As I reflect on 2006, my inclination is to compare it with 2005. From that perspective, I am disappointed with what I see.

In 2005, I felt like I really pushed myself hard to grasp new knitting techniques. I moved past scarves and learned how to knit sweaters and socks. I knit in every spare moment and spent tons of time reading about knitting on blogs and forums. Granted, 2005 was my first full year of knitting, so there was quite a learning curve, but I am far from being experienced and still have so much more to learn. Yet in 2006, I didn’t have the same drive to conquer new knitting territory. I did try fair isle, learn Magic Loop, and do toe-up socks, but all of that was done during January/February 2006 and December 2006. For all the months in between, I felt truly stagnant. My needles went untouched for some of those months as I wasn’t motivated to work on anything. Many of you reminded me that my interest in knitting would rekindle one day, and I am so happy that it did. But the bottom line is that much of the year was unproductive on the knitting front.

On the flip side, I branched out to other crafts. I tried my hand at spinning and fell in love with it, if only briefly. I took two sets of classes and purchased a beautiful wheel. Sadly, I sold it three months later because I used it all of once — for 20 minutes. Which indicated to me that spinning would not be a passion as I had hoped. I learned how to sew and started my own little online shop. I became interested in cooking and baking and experimented with a number of delicious new recipes. Although I achieved some diversity in my crafting, I would not categorize it as a success because I didn’t excel at anything. I guess I like depth more than breadth.

As I’ve been mulling over this post, I’ve been asking myself – where am I going with this? If I am dissatisfied with my crafting accomplishments (or lack thereof) in 2006, what do I aim to change for 2007? The unfortunate answer is – I don’t know. I am not ready to set new goals, and yet generally I am a goal-oriented person. I dislike being in a space where I am unhappy about a situation but uncertain of how to change it. And I wouldn’t say that I am unhappy exactly – that seems too strong – but just sort of lost. Where am I going with my knitting and sewing? I don’t know. Can I be content in these areas without striving towards specific goals? Maybe my focus this year should be on simply enjoying the comfort that crafting brings?

The one thing I am confident about is that I still enjoy blogging immensely. The community and support are truly amazing. I have enjoyed existing friendships, made new ones, and discovered wonderful blogs. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing in my crafting journey.

Happy Anniversary to My Blog

Today is my one year blog anniversary. On this occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on my knitting and blogging.

Knitting is my first real hobby. It may seem strange for someone to go through twenty-something years of life without a hobby, but it’s true. From the time I was a child, I loved to read. I used to check out the maximum number of books allowed from the library, and even then I would finish them all in a week. However, for a reason I can’t seem to articulate, I have never considered reading to be a real hobby of mine. Perhaps it’s because reading is something that I have always done and will always do. I took piano lessons for a good ten years, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it for most of those years. In college I picked up the guitar, took some lessons, and then promptly lost interest. I tried guitar again post-college and even bought a beautiful Big Baby Taylor, but ended up selling it because I have no strong love for playing music. Several months ago I ventured into beading (to make beaded stitch markers for knitting), but after two weeks my supplies were relegated to the back of the closet. Knitting is the first and only hobby in which I have immersed myself so fully for this length of time. It is also the single hobby from which I have gained so much enjoyment.

Knitting takes on different roles in my life. It is an area of growth for me because I can push myself to learn new techniques, set concrete goals for myself, and conquer challenges. Knitting is a teacher of patience, because lots of times I mess up, need to frog back, or just don’t understand the pattern or what I’m doing wrong. Prolonged frustration usually doesn’t help in these situations; I just need to take a deep breath and move on. Or ask for help. Moving on is usually easier said than done. At the same time, knitting is a way of unwinding after a long day. I’m sure some knitters think that easy projects are beneath them, but I have no shame in admitting that I need mindless knitting. Sometimes I knit projects to learn something, but other times knitting is simply just knitting. As my hands move without much thought, my mind clears. Lastly, knitting is way that I give of myself to others. In 2005 I gifted a number of items to my mother and sister; this year, I hope to be more generous with my knitting.

And then there is my blogging. Even two years ago, I would have dismissed blogging as something under the category of “not for me”. Although I consider myself friendly, by nature I am also relatively private around strangers. Why would I care to publish my thoughts and feelings online? When I stumbled across the Knitter’s Review Forum, I realized that some people blog just about knitting. Light bulb moment! I don’t have to write about love life, family life, social life, or career unless I want to, and even then I don’t have to disclose everything. So I started blogging as a way of connecting with knitters from all over the world. It has been wonderful because I have “met” so many talented and inspiring individuals.

Sometimes I think about whether one day I will stop knitting and/or blogging. I am cautious about saying “never” because, well, I didn’t think I would become a knitter or a blogger at all, did I? There are some days when I don’t knit a single stitch and am perfectly happy in that state. Days will go by when I can’t think of a single thing to write about because I haven’t made much knitting progress. And even when I do have something to share, I worry that my writing sounds mundane. I remind myself that I can love doing something without doing it every single day, and when I go return to knitting and blogging after a short break, I am always happy to be back into them. At the present moment, I think knitting and blogging will continue to be a significant part of my life.

February will mark a season of change for me. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I will be taking a spinning class. I’m excited about exploring this area of the fiber arts. Will spinning become another passion and take a place next to knitting? Or will it be a fleeting interest? Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that I can’t buy a wheel right now because I would hate to make such a large investment if I don’t end up spinning regularly. After all, a wheel costs much more than beads or even my Big Baby Taylor. I will also be starting a new job. I am eagerly anticipating the change, but also apprehensive. Transition is stressful for me, and it always takes me awhile to feel comfortable in a new work environment. In light of these upcoming events, I have decided to ease up on my knitting. In practice, this means that I am discarding my knitting timeline. The purpose of the timeline was to help me knit through my stash. But now I feel pressured to knit according to the schedule even though I don’t necessarily want to work on the scheduled projects right now. I’m still trying to finish Frieda, and I definitely don’t feel up for knitting another sweater anytime soon. So the Salina and Hourglass sweaters will have to wait. As long as I keep plugging away at my stash, I don’t see the point in sticking to the timeline. I will likely need more easy knitting in the next couple of months, so you will probably be seeing a number of scarves. Surprisingly, I’m also itching to knit socks again…yes, socks! Thank goodness I still have a tiny bit of sock yarn left!

On my blog anniversary, I want to thank you for reading my blog. Your comments bring smiles, encouragement, and enlightenment. I hope you have a wonderful day.